Using sports to foster development and social cohesion has proved to be a particularly effective mean of engaging with vulnerable young people. As several studies have confirmed, inter- and intra-community sports activities/events are a powerful tool in this regard, bringing together vulnerable children and young people from different backgrounds and allowing them to interact and play together in a safe neutral environment. Sports have also been shown to foster self-confidence, personal development and teamwork, benefiting all areas of an adolescent’s life.
Our Active Youth Matters project does more than just help individual young people and organisations; it encourages those beneficiaries to become agents of change within their own families and communities. Thus, the project is constructed in such a way that its impact will extend far beyond the number of direct beneficiaries, continuing to have a positive effect long after the programme has officially come to an end. Those beneficiaries are given all the skills and grassroots support that they need in order to impart their knowledge to other marginalised young people and implement programmes of their own, with the ultimate aim of spreading the project’s message across the country and encouraging the fostering of personal development through sport.
Sports have a particularly important role to play when it comes to children with special needs and girls. Stereotypes, social norms and traditions have traditionally resulted in sports being off-limits or too rough to them.
Sailing, in particular, has been associated with the higher classes in society and has been limited to the lower classes.
Opening up sports programmes to every child, giving them the opportunity not only to learn key life skills but also to explore avenues that are typically closed to them, will help them to integrate into wider society and encourage them to actively question social norms. We encourage all participants to address issues such as inclusion, tolerance, fair play and equal rights – and for girls in particular, it gives them a tangible opportunity to exercise their rights, both on and off the field.