Transforming Youth Resilience in Malakal, Upper Nile, South Sudan

Transforming Youth Resilience in Malakal, Upper Nile, South Sudan

In the vibrant yet volatile region of Upper Nile State, South Sudan, a beacon of hope and transformation shone brightly this April. The Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA), in collaboration with the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) and local partners, successfully conducted the Open Fun Football School – Basic Level Seminar in Malakal. This seminal event marked a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to fostering peace, empowerment, and resilience among the youth of South Sudan.

Empowering Youth in a Diverse Community

Malakal, known for its ethnic diversity and history of conflict, presented unique challenges and opportunities for this project. The seminar, held from April 13th to 15th, 2024, at the Malakal State Parliament and Upper Nile State-Malakal Stadium, aimed directly at empowering NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) youth. A total of 70 young individuals, including a small contingent of women, participated in this transformative event.

A Curriculum for Change

The agenda was meticulously designed to address the multifaceted needs of the participants and the community:

  • Day 1: The seminar began with an introduction to the Open Fun Football Schools and WorldCoaches, setting the stage for what would be a comprehensive educational experience.
  • Day 2 and 3: Participants engaged in various workshops focusing on crucial skills such as life skills integration with football, the importance of a positive children’s environment, and child protection. The hands-on approach not only taught theoretical knowledge but also practical skills in organizing sporting events that promote social cohesion and child rights.

Notable Achievements and Cultural Insights

One of the most inspiring outcomes was the seamless integration of participants from five different tribes, overcoming language barriers and cultural differences. This unity was particularly evident during the Open Fun Football Festival, which brought together 416 children, highlighting the universal language of sport and its power to unite.

The volunteer coaches, trained under the guidance of experts like Sofien Zarraa from Cross Cultures Tunisia and others from KNVB, demonstrated exceptional ability in organizing and leading the festival. Their leadership showcased the potential of sports to foster community spirit and resilience among children and youth.

Challenges and Resilience

Despite challenges such as gender disparity in participation and the extreme heat, the seminar’s success was palpable. Educational workshops adapted to overcome language barriers, switching from English to Tunisian Arabic, a testament to the flexibility and inclusiveness of the program.