Feature

Partnership opportunities to help promote sport and sustainability throughout Africa

February 02 2023

From 24th February 2023 through to 4th March 2023, under the patronage of the president of the Republic of Cameroon, YALI Sport Africa will host the inaugural Africa Global Sport Business Week in Yaounde, Cameroon.

Partnership opportunities to help promote sport and sustainability throughout Africa

The event, which will focus on “Sport, economy of sport and inclusive development in Africa: state of affairs and perspectives”, is seeking international partners and speakers who wish to engage and support YALI Sport Africa in the development of its sport and sustainability programme throughout the continent.

YALI Sport Africa has been formed by a small group of young alumni students from the initiative that President Barak Obama launched in 2010 called the Young African Leaders Initiative. The programme, commonly known as YALI, aims to develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills and connects participants with their peers in Africa and America. The YALI project is managed by the Department of State in America and is supported by Congress, the academic community and across sub-Saharan Africa. YALI consists of a number of initiatives including the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the online YALI network and four USAID Regional Leadership Centres that were established in sub-Saharan  Africa in 2015.Today there are over 5,800 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni, 22,000 alumni from the USAID Regional Leadership Centres, and 640,000 YALI Network members.

It is from the YALI Network that YALI Sport Africa  has been formed by alumni from Accra, Ghana, Lagos, Nigeria and Dakar, Senegal. The organisation is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, with executive board members based in Pretoria (South Africa) and Nairobi (Kenya), representing East and Southern Africa respectively.

YALI Sport Africa has developed its own online global community, which comprises of a wide range of sports stakeholders including athletes, researchers, representatives of sports federations and sports enthusiasts from many different countries.  It is in direct contact with the four Coordinator heads of the Regional Leadership Training Centres and is looking to expand its activities to northern Africa in 2023.

The organisation describes itself as

“A movement of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) alumni inspired by the transformative power of sports to achieve the African continent's aspirations based on inclusive and sustainable growth, driven by the potential of its people, especially Youth. We believe in the role of sports as an important enabler of sustainable development and the contributions it makes to the economy, health, education, social inclusion and the empowerment of women, youth, vulnerable people, individuals and communities.” YALI Sport Africa
“Faced with this new context, we are convinced that more innovative and sustainable sport could play a decisive role in responding to the challenges facing society today. It is time to act, and to redefine the role of sport in society in order to make it a force for progress and innovation.”

The vision is for the organisation to act as a leading sport for development movement within Africa, focused on African Youth Development and ‘building a generation of young dynamic sport leaders’

YALI Sport Africa’s key mission statement includes:

  • Support young Africans in building viable and promising careers in the sport industry.
  • Promote sports entrepreneurship, business, and sport sustainability among youth through capacity building and leadership.
  • Raise awareness about the powerful contributions of sport for community and sustainable development.
  • Increase the participation of youth, especially girls, vulnerable groups, and people with disabilities in sports.
  • Showcase the role of sport in promoting important human values, gender equality, social cohesion, peace, and healthy habits outcomes.

Sustainable sport is a concept that has been gaining momentum throughout Africa, as the continent has been exposed to the harshness of climate change, which has impacted on sporting events and led to a greater understanding of the need to preserve the environment. YALI Sport Africa have been engaged in a number of activities to reduce the impact of climate change and to reduce the use of things like single-use plastics. One successful initiative encouraged people to pick up plastic waste and raised awareness of the need to reduce plastic pollution.

YALI Sport Africa is focused on balancing the economic, social and environmental impact of sporting events while ensuring that sport is accessible to all, regardless of their socio-economic background. They see sustainable sport as a way to address challenges such as climate change, poverty, and inequality, while also promoting the continent’s rich cultural heritage and love of sport.

One of the many ways in which sustainable sport is being promoted in Africa is through the use of eco-friendly products and materials. This includes the use of environmentally friendly products such as biodegradable materials, reducing the carbon footprint of sporting events, and implementing sustainable waste management systems. During the recent 2022 African Cup of Nations hosted in Cameroon, the base of YALI Sport Africa, the event used eco-friendly water bottles and food packaging while promoting the use of public transport to reduce the number of cars on the road, showing the government of Cameroon’s commitment to sustainability.

Another key area that YALI Sport Africa focuses on is the promotion of physical activity and fitness, particularly the participation of youth, especially girls, vulnerable groups, and people with disabilities. This includes promoting the use of parks, playgrounds, and other public spaces for sports activities. The goal is to promote a healthy and active lifestyle, while also preserving the natural environment and encouraging the use of sustainable resources.

YALI Sport Africa also sees sport as providing an important platform for social and economic development, particularly for marginalised communities and groups. Gender equality is an important issue for them, with sport playing an important role in empowering women and girls, promoting their roles within society, and addressing issues like gender-based violence and discrimination. Sport has an important role to play in promoting education and social cohesion, particularly in rural communities, where access to education is limited.

The African Global Sport Business Week (AGSBW) provides a platform for cultural exchange and understanding between different communities in Africa. The conference will involve a wide variety of plenary sessions, panel discussions, workshops, and exhibitions. There will also be a range of demonstrations, training and fitness sessions, and e-sport presentations.

In talking about the AGSBW, the co-founder and Co-ordinator of YALI Sport Africa, Arnaud Sighano stated:

“Sport brings us together as families, communities and nations. It positively influences young people's behaviour and attitudes, increases their chances of acquiring viable life skills for decent work, and addresses risk factors related to crime, violence and substance abuse. By building viable professional skills, the pioneering edition of Africa Global Sports Business Week #AGSBW2023 will explore and bring new perspectives within the entire African sports business ecosystem, provide a safe space for experience sharing and networking opportunities among crucial sports stakeholders; sports entrepreneurship and commercial enterprises.” Arnaud Sighano, co-founder and Co-ordinator of YALI Sport Africa

In addition to the AGSBW conference, YALI Sport Africa organises a range of activities including elite training workshops for athletes who participate in leadership and sport for development programmes and an academy for the next generation of sports champions and leaders. It celebrated Nelson Mandela Day in December 2022 with a variety of activities.

Mandela is a particular inspiration to the group with his speech at the Laureus Sports Awards in 2000 featuring alongside their mission statement:

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” Nelson Mandela, ex-President of South Africa
“It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

To date research by Global Sustainable Sport has only identified 8 organisations that are driving sustainability through sport in Africa. These are spread across the continent with YALI Sport Africa currently being the only representative from Cameroon.

Botswana has 3 representatives including the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), the Palapye All Stars Football Club and Rivergrass United FC.

Burundi has one representative, Burundi Rugby League-Rugby A XIII, as does Kenya with Athletics Kenya, Lesotho with Kick4Life, and South Africa with WhizzKids United Football Club.

Paris 2024 and the French Development Agency (AFD) recently announced the winning projects of their third edition of the “Impact 2024 International” call for projects focused on Africa.

10 projects were selected from 202 applications and €320,821 was granted to these initiatives, focusing on gender equality, education, health and inclusion of people with disabilities.

One of these projects is organised by Cultude in Cameroon and was awarded to “Strengthen the Mapubi social, cultural and sports center in Edéa Cameroon, through a multi-sports socio-sport project for the education of young people in the city of Edéa”

.The objectives of the Cultude project align very closely with those of YALI Sport Africa and include:

  • To raise awareness among those involved in physical education and sport and the general public about access to sport for excluded populations
  • To provide educational support to young people in difficulty
  • To raise awareness among young people and children of the socio-educational values of sport
  • To develop sportsmanship among young people
  • To promote access to physical and sports activities for young people and children

 

Paris 2024 has clearly identified the opportunity to use sport to drive sustainability throughout the continent of Africa. To date it has supported thirty-two projects, through the three editions of Impact 2024 International, across seventeen countries in Africa, including Uganda, Senegal, Benin, Morocco, Togo, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Tunisia.

Clearly there are a number of opportunities for sport and sustainability to grow in Africa and African Global Sport Business Week offers an excellent opportunity for international organisations to get involved and to help grow sport and sustainability across the region.

For further information on YALI Sport Africa and African Global Sport Business Week contact:

Arnaud Sighano – contact@yalisport.org

Read moreMike Laflin

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