The use of sport as a tool in addressing challenges in areas such as health, crime prevention, education, conflict resolution, gender equity amongst many others, has over the years gathered more importance and momentum in the international arena of social development.

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In Africa, NGOs such as ORPED Sports Ghana, Right to Play, Alive & Kicking, Play Soccer, MYSA, Anopa and many others have fully embraced this concept of SfD and run programs that provide children and young people with valuable tools that make a difference in their individual lives and communities.

Most of the projects and programs in Africa are funded by development agencies such as the UN, Commonwealth, European Union, etc. In 2005, FIFA launched the Football for Hope movement which provided support to 93 NGO?s that use football as a tool to address social issues. ?20 Centres for 2010?, the official campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, saw twenty (20) Football for Hope Centres built to promote public health, education and football in disadvantaged communities across Africa.

In the midst of the outbreak of Ebola in some West Africa countries which nearly marred the staging of AFCON 2015, the probing question that readily comes to mind is whether Africa?s Football governing Body CAF has a SfD Policy?
Numerous examples abound of countries that have successfully harnessed the power of sports to develop its youth and entertain its entire population. America, Canada, and the United Kingdom have used this concept to build confidence in their youth and positioned them to be competitive not only in sport but in other fields such as science, politics, international affairs etc. Africa should not be an exception! It is time for African countries to fully maximize the use of sports as a tool to nurture its young people and improve the health of its entire population and even rebrand itself in the comity of nations. How do we achieve this objective?

In Africa, East and Southern Africa in relative terms are far ahead of West Africa as far as SfD is concerned. Events and Knowledge sharing is rife there than in West Africa. In the case of Ghana many organizations are engaged in SfD activities, but there is the need to foster collaboration and partnership to maximize its full potential and enhance its benefits to the country. Ghana with its unique character and brand in democracy, peace and sports should be able to lead the charge in the SFD in West Africa.

It is in this regard that ORPED Sports Ghana, a Ghanaian NGO established under the laws of Ghana to specifically promote Sports for Development in Ghana, West Africa and Africa, in partnership with Right to Play Ghana (RTP) and Sports for Social Change Network ? Ghana (SSCN-Ghana) initiates the ?Sports for Development series of Dialogues? to stimulate quality debate in the field of SfD in Ghana, West Africa and Africa and set a unique platform for research work in SfD to be critiqued.

ORPED SPORTS Ghana is motivated to commence this ?SfD series of Dialogues? with the view that the discussions will create the necessary awareness and better understanding of the SfD concept.
More importantly it will bring the Sfd NGO?s together to charter a cause that will lead to the decentralization of Sporting infrastructure, great sports men and women, improved leadership qualities among sports men and women, peace and positive social change and improved lifestyles among communities.
The first of those series comes off in Accra on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at the Play Soccer Ghana offices at Shiashie.

Source: George Osei

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