2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year winner Christopher ‘Tsunami’ Katongo has described sport as the easiest and most effective way of communicating key awareness messages calling for an end to Gender Based Violence (GBV), child abuse, violence and other related vices.
Katongo says sport cuts across all manners of race and religion and its attraction is second to none as can be seen from millions of people who stay glued to their favourite sport despite numerous challenges they may be faced with.
The versatile striker, who plays for Zambian Super League side Green Buffaloes, was speaking shortly after he graced the ‘STOP GBV Tournament in Nyimba at the prisons grounds’, which is part of the activities for the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence marked globally from November 25 to December 10 every year.
“I am proud and happy to be here because it is a huge honour to see and interact with young players who have expressed their desire to use football not only to advance their careers, but also use it as a tool to reach out to many people on the need to end violence and abuse,” says Katongo.
The former Jomo Cosmos striker, who led the Zambia national soccer team to winning the African Cup of Nations, the continents’ most prized tournament in 2012, also described the interaction with the Under-17 and Under-23 players under the auspices of Sport In Action as fantastic.
“Sport especially football brings people together, and that is why I found myself here to ensure that we spread the messages to stop GBV, stop violence, and child abuse. The reception was incredible because most of them have not seen me after winning the AFCON, so it was a success working together as one and spread the word in totality.
‘Football has no political attachment, when we won the AFCON, the nation celebrated as one, there was no ruling or opposition party, everyone was on the streets together- that’s how strong football is, and to put messages of Stop GBV in it, we are going in the right direction to stop the scourge completely’
‘I would like to commend organisations such as Sport In Action who are going beyond their means to involve as many young people as possible. My encouragement therefore is that they have to continue, hold more tournaments, more sessions with young people to stop them from engaging in bad vices; this is the great job that Sport in Action is doing and I would urged government to work with them more,” said Katongo.
The STOP GBV tournament attracted eleven teams of the Under-17 and Under-23 represented by 140 players, who were watched by close to one thousand spectators that thronged the Prisons’ ground in Nyimba district, east of the country.
Project manager George Kakomwe said he was proud of the participation of young men in the campaign as “they all came together to say no to violence and to say it in a positive and constructive way through football and sessions conducted by World Vision”.
Kakomwe said Sport In Action entered into partnership with World Vision Zambia to implement a Stamping Out and Preventing Gender Based Violence (STOP GBV) Project, which has left a fine blueprint on the need to end all forms of violence.
The STOP GBV project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).
“The sessions with the boys on how to engage boys and young men in stopping GBV was a success and the presence of World Vision, who were on hand to provide information on how young people can access legal information when abused was very interactive,” said Kakomwe.