In a bid to promote a conducive environment for equity, coexistence and constructive teamwork, the GNRC Network in South Africa held its inaugural sports and intercultural ‘meet and greet’ event under the banner, “Youth Power: Growing South Africa Together in the Period of COVID-19 Through Sports,” on 4th July 2021. The event took place during South Africa’s Youth Month and coincided with the International Day of the African Child.
During the outdoor event, GNRC–SA Coordinator, Ms. Saydoon Nisa Sayed noted that the sports event was one of its kind in that it brought 37 children from different communities, schools, social background and religions specifically to engage and transform each other for the betterment of the community.
Children organized themselves into four different sports groups namely: Injabulo (Joy), Iqiniso (Truth), Uthando (Love) and Ukuthula (Peace); and through the names given to them, the children practiced and adhered to these values in their activities. The event was filled with competitive games, lectures on principles of sportsmanship, acting, songs and praises, all aimed at promoting the spirit of togetherness through sports.
Grateful for the support rendered by interfaith organizations, Ms. Sayed said that she was overwhelmed by the sponsorships they received from Arigatou International and other faith-based institutions. She was specifically appreciative to see a member of the Religions for Peace South Africa Youth Interfaith Climate Forum, Alton Sukdeo for attending and supporting the event.
Throughout the children-led event, projection of banners and paintings that expressed the spirit of interfaith coexistence, promotion of peace, children’s rights and harmony was done. A member of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, Kurveshan Perumaul, noted that in keeping with the traditional way of sportsmanship, children demonstrate a high energy to compete and engage but most importantly their willingness to learn and appreciate one another.
“I am quite impressed by the children’s commitment to own the values of their sports groups in their human spirit throughout the event.” – Vedhan Singh, Southern Africa Regional Representative from the African Union’s Interfaith Youth Forum.
The event was filled with countless competitions including traditional three-legged race, egg-and-spoon race, and sack race among other obstacles. The tug-of-war was an absolute favorite of all, which saw loud cheers from children and youth. Awards for the event included both fun and educational gifts such as coloring books, marbles, toy cars, sandcastle buckets and spades, puzzles, etc.
With the spirit of, “Every child is special, and every child is a winner,” no attendee was left without a prize. At the end of the event participants were urged to continue practicing the human values of injabulo, iqiniso, uthondo and ukuthula even after the sports day.