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Symposium on Sport For Youth Development: A Personal Account

Written by Soccer 4 Hope Life Skills Manager, Wewe Sokoyi

Through Soccer 4 Hope and its partnership with the GTZ and YDF (Youth Development through Football network), I and Tholakele were invited on a trip to Germany. We left Cape Town on the afternoon of November 17th, flew to Johannesburg (where we  linked up with two of our colleagues from our partnering organization Altus Sport, Portia Diketane and Gert Pogieter), then connected to Germany.

After a good flight from Cape Town to Germany, we were welcomed at the Frankfurt Airport by Nils Ostheimer from the GTZ. We then met with two other candidates from the symposium, Ms.Kelly Mkhonto and her colleague Ms.Sumayya Khan, who are from Sport and Recreation South Africa. From the airport we then traveled to Bonn’s Hotel Bristol, where we had breakfast, rested and refreshed. We then had a briefing meeting on the arrival of Hannes Bickel and Gerald Guskowski from GTZ South Africa.

The main objective of the trip was to visit various organizations/departments that are playing a role in sport for youth development programs and off course, social change. Our 1st visit was to German Sport University Cologne, where we had a presentation on sport and cooperation for development, partnerships, and their future goals by Dr.Petry, Groll, Bauer and Sebastian. On the morning of the 19th, we departed for Berlin by train, a 5 hour ride. I must admit, it was a very long and tiring ride but thumbs-up the train was as comfortable as a flight! Upon our arrival we were welcomed by Oliver from GTZ, who assisted us in getting to the PATH TO SUCCESS workshop at the Seminaris Campus Hotel, hosted by the German Olympic Sport Confederation. There, we were welcomed by Isabelle and Prof. Margaret Talbot. The purpose of the workshop was to develop and support women/men as potential leaders in sport organizations. We had presentations from successful leaders and coaches on their paths to success, their challenges and highlights. We enjoyed the program and were featured as the South African team who were asked to give our new friends a bit of where we come from.  One memorable part of the program was joining Dr. Gudrun Doll-Tepper and her colleague as they, and the whole team of around 80 people, sang at a restaurant. We couldn’t resist but sing along. Personally, I had a fruitful experience being part of the DOSB.

Sunday afternoon we left for Frankfurt and had a meeting at the Department of Sport of the Municipality with Michael Hess about the role of the municipality in grassroots sports projects. Monday afternoon we had a symposium at the GTZ headquarters, where I was one of the panelists along with Ms.Sumayya from SRSA and Ms.Nia Kunzer a football world champion. Questions related to me were about the impact of football in my life, reasons I’m working in a football organization and with girls, and what changes I would like to see in the future in our society. . . .Of course, it’s girls/women being acknowledged in soccer, the so called “Male dominated” sport, and a society where women are respected for being leaders!

We then paid a visit to the German Football Confederation and had a presentation from Mr. Willi Hink of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, SG Bornheim Grun/Weis, a youth club. The organization reminded me about my job, working with children, and how I just have to be with them. We sang, played football, helped them ride bikes, and right in that moment I felt at home. It was sad when I had to go. We were then treated to a presentation from the Federal Ministry, where we had a fruitful discussion with Mr.Ingolf Dietrich, the head of division Southern Africa. Before I even realized, two of our colleagues had to go home and it was somewhat sad, yet awesome that I had an opportunity to meet and learn about their work. It gave me a positive perspective on the involvement of our government in tackling social issues.

Our journey was coming to an end. We had a few last projects to visit such as KICK-Sport against juvenile delinquency, then had a panel of discussion on youth promotion through sport where we were given background on international cooperation for sustainable development at the GTZ offices in Berlin. Then, guess who I met. . . . . . YES, Willi Lemke. I was asked to do an opening reference on my involvement in sport and its influences in my life. Lastly, after along day, we had a tour of Berlin and its memorials. I personally found its history capturing.

We then visited the society for sport and youth social work and street football world. The team wrapped up our travels and experiences with a  long debriefing dinner at a community Hannes called “The Gugulethu of Berlin”.

This experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. This trip was totally worth my time and what I found really amazing and wish to take home and implement, is the relationship between every grassroots organization, sports clubs, police, social workers, the different government sectors, study institutions, and the community at large. They are all linked and working hand in hand to make a positive impact in their society.

A warm thank you to the GTZ team for this remarkable opportunity, all the different organizations, and the representatives for making our stay a pleasant one and giving us such a wonderful experience of Germany. Remember to give me SHOUT when you find yourselves in Cape Town!