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Namibia, 9 February 2016: Using sport as springboard for social development

© UNICEF Namibia/2015/T. Mutseyekwa
Setting the pace for fun and games - Benjamin Jansen leads a warm up session with children at Kalkrand Primary School

 
By Tapuwa Loreen Mutseyekwa

KALKRAND, Namibia, 9 February 2016 – Benjamin Jansen (31 years) has just spent another memorable day facilitating sporting activities at Kalkrand Primary School, a village based school located in Namibia’s Hardarp Region.

The jubilant cheers, the ecstatic celebrations and the skilled sportsmanship engulfing the school grounds, demonstrate the electric mood which has been sparked by the introduction of the School Sports for Development Programme.

“I feel encouraged and happy because I am directly involved in grooming children’s talents in sport, building healthy bodies and confidence and, most importantly, raising awareness on critical life lessons,” says Benjamin, as he explains the broad range of opportunities for children’s agility, leadership skills, team spirit, respect and self-confidence to be amassed through strengthening sport.

Sadly, within many schools in Namibia, Physical Education is a subject that is not given due recognition as it is not used to determine a child’s progression to the next grade. In many instances, resources and time are not adequately allocated to ensure the flourishing of PE and sports while little effort is given to boost the morale of those who are engaged in these activities.

“I use my own life testimony and experiences to persuade school administrators, parents and the children themselves that lessons and achievements from any sporting activity are transferable to real life situations.” says Benjamin, as he flags an example of one of his prodigies who is now playing for the national women’s football team.

© UNICEF Namibia/2015/T. Mutseyekwa
Sports Facilitator, Benjamin Jansen, using sport as a vehicle to empower and develop young people in Namibia

As one of the Sports Facilitators to steer the recently introduced School Sports for Development Programme, Benjamin is looking forward to the opening of more opportunities for children’s sporting talents, as well as their personal development.

The School Sports for Development programme has been set out to reinvigorate and strengthen the Physical Education (PE) curriculum and the School Sports Programme. Under the mentorship of Benjamin and his peers, the delivery of PE and school sports will be strengthened using the Sports for Development approach. This approach entails using the sport to promote healthy life styles through dissemination of critical messages on HIV prevention, dangers of unsafe sex, teenage pregnancy and violence, as well as instilling leadership skills. Sports equipment and attire have been availed to boost the sports resources within the schools.

“Sport is an important instrument through which UNICEF’s mandate to promote the rights of children, is fulfilled,” said UNICEF Representative, Micaela Marques de Sousa. “It is an important catalyst to drive and enhance change for children through the breaking of barriers, promotion of participation, altering of attitudes and including the excluded.”

Benjamin is already hard at work at four pilot schools in the region, supporting the creation of conducive sporting environments in school through building the capacity of educators and getting the buy in of schools to ensure that solid institutional platforms are established for sports and PE.

“There is a lot of sporting talent in Namibia, and I am confident that this programme will help to identify and build skills from within the school,” says Benjamin, as he looks forward the growth of School Sports for Development programme in the Namibia as a whole.

 

 
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