Sports is an Outlet for Expression
By Joan Abu Jebara Assali
QALQILYA, 5 May 2005 - For 14 year old Latifa, being part of the volleyball tournament is a dream come true. Along with her volleyball team from Qalqilya, she crossed many checkpoints and traveled a long distance to get to Ramallah where the volleyball tournament is planned to take place.
Latifa was cheering for her team enthusiastically; it was the finals in the volleyball tournament in the ‘Sports for Development’ project. She was eagerly waiting for her coach to call her in to play against the Hebron team.
“I love sports, I can’t wait to play, and win” Latifa said, “My team is made up of girls from 5 different schools from Qalqilya district, I have so many friends now” Latifa added.
Latifa has been part of the ‘Sports for Development’ project for two years now, ‘There are no places for us to play in Qalqilya, our parents feel worried if we were to play in the streets” Latifa said. The ‘Sports for Development’ project empowered young people with needed life skills. ‘This project has provided us with an outlet to express ourselves and to be heard, sports have given me self confidence and I was able to make new friends.” Latifa added.
Latifa has been training with her team during and after school hours; they play all kinds of sports including tennis, volleyball, basketball, and table tennis. Representing her country in international volleyball tournaments is a wish for Latifa, “sports is peace, cooperation and understanding, we have to encourage international interaction for peace to be all over the world” Latifa said.
UNICEF supported this tournament as part of the ‘Sports for Development’ project with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. The project reached more than 170 schools and actively involved at least 6500 adolescents-out of which 50% girls. This project used an approach where a sport is utilized as a mean for development of children, adolescents and young people.
This project is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and International Football Association and the International Volleyball Federation.