Sporting encounters are well suited to help develop a sense of community and getting to know other young people. Especially in a region where there are always tensions between ethnic groups, sports can make a difference.
The students in Saboba are all very enthusiastic about sports. We have always been able to notice this with every visit, whether at the football matches of the local football club Saboba Zongos, which was initiated by the Youth Centre, where the spectators crowd the sidelines, or when the SYC volunteers go to schools’ sports-fields with some balls in the afternoon.
The younger children then quickly start to bolt, while the teenagers split up into teams and elect a referee. Then games are played with great dedication and seriousness, but it always remains at fair play. The young people can play football pretty well: we were able to experience this ourselves, because we were immediately invited to play along!
On the one hand, the sports events of the SYC offer the young people physical activity and entertainment, but on the other hand, they are also social events through which one can socialise. This way young people meet who might otherwise have nothing to do with each other. In the northeast of Ghana, there are many different ethnic groups and tribes, between which there are always conflicts. While it has been peaceful in Saboba district recently, there have been some violent clashes between ethnic groups in the neighboring districts of Yendi and Chereponi.
However, the football matches of the SYC and Saboba Zongo ensure that members of various groups meet and get into conversation with each other. In Ghana, sport is a proven way to connect people.
However, it is not easy to get a ball in a remote location like Saboba. That’s why every time we visit Saboba, we bring balls and other sports equipment that are well used there.