At ‘NA WE WE’ Sports Jamboree: Gov’t, partners hail LOYOC for massive mobilisation to enhance peace, living-together

A youth-led community initiative that uses sports and recreational activities to foster social cohesion and healthy living between and among Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs), and host communities in Cameroon has gone underway in Bafoussam in the West Region of the country.

The third edition of the annual summer holiday sports event dubbed NA WE WE Sports Jamboree kicked off on Saturday July 6, 2024, at Lycee CLassique Campus in the West Regional capital. Thousands of athletes from five regions of the country including the volatile North West and South West Regions, the West, Centre and Boko Haram-prone Far North Regions are taking part in the sports jamboree this year.

Organised by youth-led peace building organisation, Local Youth Corner, (LOYOC) Cameroon, under the aegis  of  the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, (MINJEC), this year’s edition of the sports jamboree is taking place under the theme : “Using sports to build inter-cultural relationships”.

Cross section of athletes and spectators at opening of the third edition of ‘Na We We’ Sports Jamboree

The Executive Director of LOYOC Cameroon, Christian Achaleke explained that the aim of the NA WE WE Sports Jamboree  is to create a platform  where young people within displaced communities and their host  communities can  come together, learn from each other, build  long lasting connections which foster peace and sustainable development.

Cameroon has been grappling with complex insecurity challenges including a Boko Haram insurgency in the Far North and a bloody secessionist armed conflict in the English-speaking North West and South West Regions, exacerbating displacements.

There were nearly 2.2 million displaced people in the country as at June 30 this year, according to the United Nations and observers say initiatives like the one by LOYOC Cameroon help shine the light on the impacts of the insecurity challenges on the innocent people.

The initiative targets youths between the ages of 15 and 35 years old from both among the displaced and host communities who take part in different sporting activities during which they play, dialogue and build relationships.

Gov’t, partners hail initiative

On behalf of the Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, the Secretary General in the Ministry, Zachee Robert Theophile Benga extended the government’s words of appreciation and encouragement to LOYOC Cameroon for the innovative peacebuilding process. He said the government is happy with the mobilization and inculcation of core moral, civic, entrepreneurial and “especially the value of peace” to the young displaced and host communities.

The Secretary General in the Ministry Youth Affairs and Civic Education speaking at the event

Besides the government, the initiative has been welcomed and supported by diplomatic missions, United Nations and local agencies in the country.

The High Commissioner of Canada to Cameroon, Lorraine Anderson said such innovative mechanisms are important as the fun and communication displayed during the team sports is necessary for social cohesion.

“It is very important for the youths to understand that the  Canadian government is always delighted in giving them the support when it comes to using sports as a tool for the promotion of peace, among their various communities and helping them know how to handle their differences,’’ the Canadian diplomat said hailing LOYOC.

Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon, others greet players before kick off of opening game

Youths urged to play, live together

The Deputy Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA), in Cameroon, Noemi Dalmonte said the UN Agency is very enthusiastic about accompanying activities like LOYOC’s Sports Jamboree, which “aims at putting young people first all the time and promoting social cohesion”.

She said such activities permit Cameroonian youths to live together and advocate for peace void of sexual violence, knowledge of their rights and protection of their bodies. “We urged them to take advantage of the vacation to get more information on sexuality education, play together and live together on the same place”.

UNFPA Deputy Representative in Cameroon and Executive Director of LOYOC Cameroon

Scheduled to run until August 26, some 5,000 athletes are taking part in this year’s event in four disciplines including handball, football, basketball and dancing for both the men and women categories.

In a thrilling opening match of this year’s edition both players of SOLIDARITY and LOVE female football teams portrayed fierce determination and team spirit. At the end, team SOLIDARITY ‘lovely’ defeated team LOVE 6-0 with both teams showing ‘solidarity’ with players hugging each other and sharing pleasantries as they exited the pitch.

Free consultation services on offer

Statistics by LOYOC show that during the second edition of the sports jamboree in the nation’s capital, Yaounde last year, they reached 5,000 IDPs, mobilised 500 athletes. Same shows that they engaged over 100,000 people physically and over 3,000,000 through media.

This year, the organizers of Na We We Sports Jamboree expect to reach an audience of 100,000 people who will be sensitized against gender-based violence (GBV), offered free health consultations, screening, surgery and referrals.

Like in the previous editions, the event will also be an opportunity for partners and sponsors to showcase  and sensitise the communities about their products, services and career opportunities, organisers say.

Also present at the colourful opening ceremony were the Inspector General at the West Governor’s office, the Senior Divisional Officer for Mifi, officials from PLAN Cameroon, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), German Development Cooperation (GIZ) as well as some musicians and influencers in the country.

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