Soccer Without Borders (SWB) Uganda celebrated our 6th annual youth festival!In Kampala, Soccer Without Borders works with youth refugees to support their integration into their local community. During the year, our participants attend programming to learn English, life-skills and play afternoon soccer. The Youth Festival takes place over the holiday season when public schools are still out, so a combination our kids from our school programming, former participants who now attend formal school, and kids in the neighborhood, all join together to make it our biggest event of the year. This year we wanted to reflect on the past in order to better impact the future. Under the theme, “Remember the Time…” the festival spent five days learning about different parts of history and imagine a bright future.
Each day was structured with interactive lessons in the morning. During this time participants were broken up into six small groups with team leaders. Moving into the afternoon groups came together for a bigger activity. Monday started with remembering the history of the land. After learning about the importance of keeping the environment clean, groups got together to pick up trash around the community. With the help of our neighbors and the local police we were able to pick up over 18 bags of trash.
The week continued with remembering influential people, the history of soccer and SWB, history of ourselves and where we come from, and Friday we finished with a lesson on gender equality and how moving forward it will impact the future. They played two days of soccer, including an afternoon of Football 3 where students coach and ref themselves as they discuss, play and then reflect about different rules to engage both teams. Another day was spent with relays and competition like a crowd favorite, egg toss. Then of course starting and ending each day with hours of dancing.
With over 300 participants, the SWB local staff was going to need some help. This year, we were joined by three volunteers to assist with the planning and hosting of the youth festival. Taylor Sebolao, Doug Blais, and three time youth festival volunteer, Chris Grecco, joined the eleven local staff members for a mix of experiences and backgrounds to lead the week.
“The youth festival was tiring and lots of work, but it was also a life changing experience,” explained volunteer, Taylor Sebolao. The youth festival was Sebolao’s first time to East Africa and as the youngest volunteer, 21, her energy was a great addition to the week.
After five consecutive six hour days, filled with five discussions, four hours of soccer, two hours of trash pickup, 3,000 bags of water, 330 lbs of rice, 270 lbs of beans, and many hours of dancing, the staff at Soccer Without Borders could not be happier to report such a successful week. For all of our readers that helped make our festival possible we thank you for your support. Continue to stay informed about our Soccer Without Borders site here in Uganda, and learn how you can be a part of our team at http://www.soccerwithoutborders.org/uganda