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GEM/BEM Sports Progamme giving future leaders a sporting chance

UNICEF South Africa/2013/Jacobs
© UNICEF South Africa/2013/Jacobs
Getting into the right mindset for an eventful day lying ahead.

The Girls and Boys Education Movement (GEM/BEM) movement has become a powerful source of social change since its introduction to schools in South Africa ten years ago. Building on the success of the GEM/BEM clubs, the GEM/BEM Sports Programme was recently launched.

March 2013 - Sixteen-year-old Ntloso is smiling wholeheartedly as he jogs around a sports field at the break of dawn. Dozens of children and young people are gathered on the same field: running, stretching and talking excitedly. The rising sun’s first rays light up the Magaliesburg mountains – signaling day two of the first GEM/BEM Sports leadership camp.

This weekend’s camp, and the ones to follow countrywide, will have a strong focus on the role of leadership in sport. Yet what is being instilled here has little to do with winning medals, but rather focuses on winning hearts for the GEM/BEM cause – to inspire young people to lead change in their communities.

“Sport direct young people towards the positive things in life,” says Ntloso.

“You will always have challenges in life and through sport you learn a valuable lesson: when you fall, you need to get back up again.”

UNICEF South Africa/2013/De Villiers
© UNICEF South Africa/2013/Jacobs
GEM/BEM club members take time out to reflect on the role of leadership in sport.

Using sport to equip future leaders

The children and young people attending the camp have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and commitment as members of their respective GEM/BEM clubs. As a result, they were invited to attend this pilot GEM/BEM Sports leadership camp to develop their talents and leadership skills even further.

During the weekend they will discover how to apply the principles that guide sportsmen and –women to inspire children and young people. Ultimately, they will be challenged to reach out to peers beyond the classroom, using sport as a common ground to engage with others.

Changing the world one game at a time

Ntloso says the camp is opening his eyes to the possibilities presented by sport.

“Sport and leadership are intertwined – together they build team spirit and also develop life skills and leadership abilities. Through sport GEM/BEM can recruit more members.”

As he prepares for the next group discussion session, Ntloso highlights the responsibility entrusted to his generation.

“The youth have an important role in improving the world and our way of living. We need to come together and learn to listen to each other.”

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