Sport in Agroecology: How much does it matter?

Sport in Agroecology: How much does it matter?
By Steve Ephraem

The finalists Mhandarume in blue and Red Army in white

JACK Brewer in an article titled “Using Sport to end hunger and achieve security” wrote that sport “can lead to the wellness of a community or individual, and this connection between sport and health can be used to highlight inefficiencies in the global food supply chain.”

He went further to say that “sport can serve as a catalyst for achieving all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is poised, however, to make a unique impact on Goal 2, which aims to ‘end hunger, achieve food security, improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”

Jack’s analysis is very right. Sport programs have long-term benefits to the community. Communities that participate in sport, develop strong social bonds. People become physically and emotionally strong through sport. Such communities become healthier and happier and develop a sense of belonging and unity.

Agroecology is all about increasing yields using farming methods that doesn’t harm the environment.

Agroecology principles might not be understood or accepted in communities if the people are not united or doesn’t have sense of belonging and mental wellness. So sport is one way of bringing mental wellness to the communities.

Participatory Organic Research and Training (PORET), a self-help organisation that is based at Chaseyama in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe has adopted the concept of sport in agroecology.

The organisation has set up a football league for youth in Chimanimani West. The sport teams were drawn from Chimanimani ward 2 (Mhandarume), ward 3 (Chakohwa) and ward 5 (Rupise/Hotsprings).

According to PORET’s sport programme coordinator, Grace Gumba, “the idea of playing football games as a way to attract youth to agroecology came to us and we decided to start playing the games. Six teams registered, each having 25 players and 5 officials.

“All the teams pay an affiliation fee which goes towards buying football balls. In April we did a one-day Agroecology training at PORET Centre with 28 football players. We used that opportunity to give them a tour of the Centre to learn about Permaculture Land Use Design.

“At each game, we did short meetings about planting trees. Many of the players got involved with tree planting, both on the grounds of the games and also taking trees home with them to plant. The programme has raised lots of interest and courage from the youth to continue learning about agroecology while being involved in sporting activities,” she said.

On 19 November 2022, PORET held the finals for the 2022 season which pitted Chakohwa FC and Chaseyama FC battling for the fourth and third position as Red Army FC and Mhandarume FC fought for the second and first position.

The finals that were held at Hotsprings Secondary School saw Chaseyama taking fourth position, Chakohwa becoming third, Red Army grabbing second place and Mhandarume being crowned as kings.

The players from the teams confirmed that sport in agroecology has really helped them develop their communities and helped youth from shunning social ills especially drug abuse.

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