Bringing Youth to the Centre of Sports and Development
August 12, 2022
In Cameroon, more than 60% of the population is under the age of 25, making youth essential to advance the development trajectory of the country. Sports through its values of collaboration, unity, inclusion, and fairness serves as an avenue to invest in human capital and catalyse development—to advance the realization of the youth dividend. To leverage the positive impact of sports, promote the Sustainable Development Goals, and increase investment in youth, UNDP Cameroon partnered with the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) and the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education (MINSEP) to launch the “Sport for Development, Social Cohesion and Peace” project.
This will “bring hope and new opportunities to young people everywhere,’’ noted Samuel Eto’o, the President of FECAFOOT during the project’s August 4th launch.
This initiative, through the construction of (10) multisport complexes across the country, aims to improve access for women, young people and vulnerable groups to quality sports infrastructure and strengthen the values of peace, citizenship, and social cohesion through sports activities. The first two multisport complexes will be constructed in Bamenda in the North-West and Kousseri in the Far North. Currently, the North-West and South-West regions face a socio-political crisis that has disrupted all aspects of daily life from basic service delivery to livelihood opportunities. The Far North faces a terrorist insurgency from Boko Haram as well as an intercommunal conflict caused by climate-related resource scarcity. The challenges facing these two crisis-affected locations highlight the need for this project, to promote social cohesion and allow youth to embody peace and unity despite their environment.
During the launch event, a 16-year-old female youth representative shared, “I find it so heart-warming to see how we seem to forget our self-imposed cultures and restrictions and focus on what matters most,’’ emphasizing the centrality of sports as a tool for social cohesion.
Youth participants also noted the importance of meaningfully including women and girls within sports for development and eliminating barriers that hinder their participation, whether it be from social barriers that stigmatize girls playing sports or physical barriers due to the lack of access to sports infrastructure. “The need to build the agency of girls and women in sports for development requires improvement of skills and literacy competencies.”
To promote education and literacy, the sports complexes will include multimedia centres that provide access to digital technology and trainings to promote innovation and digitalization.
"Sports brings us together, making us forget about our problems" a youth representative added. Guided by the principle of ‘Leave No One Behind,’ the Sports for Development project capitalizes on the love of sports across Cameroon and invests in youth to ensure a future rooted in inclusion, equality, and peace.