What have sports got to do with grassroots engagement?

When the world seriously went into a face-off with Covid-19 in early 2020, Sam Magumba from Mayuge in Uganda reached out to me (Andrew Julius Bende) – with the narration below.

The pandemic had forced the country to close schools and force a lockdown on its population. The young people, in particular, were most hit – this is both from not going to school, but also because the school functioned not only as an education/learning space, but equally as a socializing, friendships growth and maintenance, and an escape space away from homes – a space of both love as well as chores, restrictions, conflicts, etc.

Many young people were resorting to spending their days hiding around corners, habits like substance abuse were on the rise, and the national statistics for teenage pregnancies were on the rise. Sam suggested that we should provide some form of leisure activity to mitigate some of these and purposefully engage the young people. Luckily, we had many years before with success started and ran a soccer league that was now in slumber – and with about 600 USD (4.500 DKK) we reinitiated the league towards the end of 2020.

This blog is an update on the league and what role sports can play in community engagement and eventually empowerment/agency – three years after setting the ship to sail. The blog also delineates a few thoughts on the future of the league. Enjoy your read.