Football 4 Peace and Sustainable Tourism Development in The Gambia
In December, a group of 27 students and staff on the Niche Tourism module at the School of Sport & Service Management returned to the Gambia to work alongside 12 local stakeholders from the Village of Kartong. The aim was to produce a series of sustainable development plans for the community. One was to develop sport in the village as a tool for social and economic development. For the first time, the group were joined by six Football 4 Peace coaches to deliver a programme for 146 boys and girls and 24 young men in football, rugby and netball.
Whilst The Gambia is not in conflict with its neighbours, it has issues around building capacity, sustainable development, high youth unemployment and poverty. Kartong Village is also finding ways to address some fundamental social issues around the marginalised Balanta community who live by the side of the village sport field, the large numbers of educated but unemployed young adults and how to capitalise on its status as an ‘eco’ tourism centre within The Gambia.
The students and local stakeholders worked on several projects including one on permaculture, a honey café and a village wide policy and centre for visitors which took into account local needs and customs as well as those of tourists.
Geri Mitchell of Sandele Eco Resort who lives in the village reported back on the presentations:
“What came through for me was a coherence around how they all hung together and it was moving to see how some fundamental social issues were addressed around the hitherto marginalised Balanta group. I think that it took us to a new level of understanding of how tourism has the potential to bring social and financial benefits as well as honouring the work that previous courses have done to set the scene for what was produced.
Football 4 Peace introduced rugby and netball for the first time with great success despite the children and local coaches having no previous knowledge of the games! The visiting coaches learnt how to adapt to local circumstances and by working with the local coaches, the team found ways of adapting the usual ‘off pitch’ activities used to promote the Football 4 Peace values. These were enhanced by elements of the University of Johannesburg’s Life Games so that confidence, communication and social skills were developed.”
Abdoulie Manneh, Head of the Kartong Sport Committee reported back to the village elders and Alkalo (chief): “we are very much happy with what Football 4 Peace has done here and we have learnt many new things to use for the future.”