New ISCA member brings school sport back in Sierra Leone
Last decade the Government of Sierra Leone banned school sport activities because they were often marred by violence and sometimes death. In 2010, new ISCA member Sport for Development and Peace Sierra Leone (SDP SL) decided to step in and find a solution to this barrier to sport and physical activity for young people. By 2011 the government’s ban was lifted. Tima Brewah tells ISCA how SDP SL helped turn this situation around.
When SDP SL decided to take action to overturn the Sierra Leone government’s ban on school sport, we first organised seminars to train peace ambassadors in each academic institution in the country. We also did school-to-school peace outreach sessions teaching students and distributing flyers about peace and how sport promotes friendship. After a year working on this first step, we were confident that we could ask the government to lift its ban on school sport. We explained about the activities we had done and argued that they showed how school sport could be carried out peacefully.
In 2011, the ban was lifted and the first Inter-Secondary School competition was held – athletics (track and field), soccer, basketball and volleyball were the chosen sporting disciplines. We were fortunate to get support from the Australian Sport Commission and Sport for Change, an organisation based in Melbourne, Australia. The government officials monitored the week-long activities closely and they were impressed by the fact that our mentoring worked and there were no reports of violence between the students. This was considered a huge success.
We are proud as a group to have been able to achieve this result, and the changes in attitude among students in our country and the way they embrace sports has been phenomenal.
The SDP SL Chairman, Chief Michael Shamsu Mustapha has since received an award from the Africa International Sports Convention (CISA) for his outstanding leadership and creativity. This also led to the Government of Sierra Leone appointing him as Sierra Leone Sport Ambassador and representative to UNOSDP International Working Group in 2012.
About Sport for Development and Peace Sierra Leone (SDP SL)
SDP SL is an initiative connected to the Sierra Leone Ministry of Youth and Sports which focuses on implementing Sport for Development and Peace policy recommendations in the national government’s development strategies. SDP SL organises sport programs for orphanages, poor communities, and communities marred with violence and drugs.