As Young Achievement Sport for Development (YASD) prepares for the 2017 Homeless World Cup in Oslo, Norway recent statistics released by the Zimbabwean government through the Department of Social Welfare are shocking. According to the Deputy Minister of the ministry Tapiwa Mataingaidze nearly 5 000 children are living and working on the streets in the major cities of Zimbabwe.
Through the YASD Sports training program the organisation has been engaging young people living in informal settlements with hope of giving them a second chance in life .Through projects such as Goals4Life, many young people have been part of the organisations personal development meetings. The meetings draw children living in these settlements by introducing street soccer matches where the young people take part. As the young people gather to take part in the soccer activities, it gives the peer educators of the organisation an opportunity to understand the challenges the young people face on their communities as well as encourage them to regularly come for soccer practice where activities of personal development are introduced. The topics in these personal development activities include goal setting, time management, knowing who you are, choices, decision making and entrepreneurship.
Over the past two decades young people in Zimbabwe have experienced many hardships which are not limited to losing parents to HIV/AIDS, abuse, rejection by family due to various social or traditional beliefs and teen parenthood. All these and more have resulted in most young people ending up on the streets where they end up selling their bodies for money , or abusing drugs ,gambling and committing petty crimes.
According to Petros Chatiza YASD Coordinator,” we are trying as much as we can as an organisation to safeguard the future of the young people through our football for good interventions. Through the Homeless World Cup project we have reached out to hundreds of young people who have now turned and refocused their lives.” The Homeless World Cup which is coordinated by YASD in Zimbabwe is a football tournament which leverages on the power of football to energise homeless and socially excluded people so that they can change their lives.
As the organisation prepares for the Homeless World Cup, despite the economic challenges Chatiza said ultimately the tournament is not about winning or losing but saving a life by giving homeless , marginilised and underprivileged young Zimbabweans a second chance in life.
The statistics of young people living on the street in Zimbabwe are awake up call to developmental organisations, CSOs and other stakeholders to forge partnerships that provide a social safety net for young people not to end up on the streets. The YASD sports training programme is jus one initiative aimed at solving the crisis the Zimbabwean government is faced with.