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Sports motivate youth dialogue in the Sri Lankan hill country

2012 May 10
Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Thank you to Ayodhya Krishani Amarajeewa from the SFCG Sri Lanka office for submitting this blog post about sports proving a path toward community empowerment for young people in Sri Lanka.

“The football team at Fordeys School in Nuwara Eliya in the hill country made everyone proud when they won the national level championship. This victory mattered a lot to the area youth groups. It is their effort in training the school football team even with few facilities that led the Fordeys School’s football team to victory. These young amateur trainers see a future in it.”

Everyone likes to win but success at sports was the least of what was achieved at the Fordeys School. Coming together to work with modest means prepared local youth to unite toward a bigger goal, one that would have a positive impact on their peers throughout the hill country. With a better feel for their strengths, these youth came ready with a solution in mind when they approached the Sri Lankan Minister of Sports to discuss their concerns about becoming professional athletes last month.

Young Sri Lankan athletes meet with the Minister of Sport

Young Sri Lankan athletes meet with the Minister of Sports.

Some of the main problems young people face in their efforts to become professional athletes include the lack of proper sports facilities, opportunities to use their talents, and proper guidance on professionalism in sports. This independent youth committee, formed as a joint SFCG – Sewalanka Foundation initiative, consists of representative leaders from several different youth clubs in the Hatton area.

The committee related how training and integrating talented youths as professional sports trainers (PT school teachers, for example) would be a meaningful way of engaging young people in the country’s development efforts both nationally and internationally. Recognizing the youth’s enthusiasm, the Ministry is in the process of providing required sports equipment as a first step. Now, with the knowledge that their voice matters, the youth have become more engaged and hope to finally realize their dream of having proper training facilities.

When the project on ‘Civic Participation in the Hill Country’ was started, the youth in these areas already had youth clubs. However, these were more for leisure activities than for achieving a sense of community empowerment.  These youth had the vigor and aspiration to solve their problems, which SFCG was able to mobilize by providing a platform for these young leaders to engage each other as well as the national leadership toward finding creative solutions to their problems.

With a feeling of responsibility arising from their new sense of empowerment, this Youth Committee is acting to bring better opportunities to their community. These young leaders are bringing a different approach to address their communities’ common problems. Now they work to find common ground through dialogue while addressing social issues creatively.

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