“There were a lot of things which I was not aware of. I can now confidently say that I have known a lot through various activities during the trophy. That lack of awareness on such key issues is very dangerous as young people end up in tough situations due to lack of facts” – said Chimwemwe Likwemba.

Chimwemwe is a 14 year-old primary school leaners at Police Primary school. He stays at Mapale Township in Zomba City. Chimwemwe is among young people whom YONECO reached out to with information about sexual reproductive health (SRH), Gender Based Violence (GBV), Child Abuse and Youth Development among the youth through Sports.

YONECO funded a football and netball trophy that was aimed at disseminating critical and age-appropriate information on various issues that negatively impact on the rights and welfare of young people. The trophy was open to all primary schools in the area as well as out-of-school under-14 football and netball teams. The Trophy commenced in April, 2017 and ended on 17 December, 2017.

According to one of the coordinators of the trophy, Edwin Chulu, YONECO helpline Counsellors and Field Officers were engaged during the games to disseminate key information to the targeted young people. Chulu further explained that YONECO utilised some minutes before every game, the half time period to drive the messages home.

Teachers and various youth leaders have also acknowledged the fact that young people who were patronising the games have gained a lot of knowledge on GBV, SRHR, youth development as well as Violence against Children.

In his remarks, the Executive Director for YONECO, MacBain Mkandawire, revealed that next year’s package for the trophy has been revised upwards due to the positive impact which the trophy had on young people. As such, the initiative will also be scaled up to reach out to more young people in the district.

“The sports trophy has proved to be a good channel for raising awareness to young people about issues that affect them. As such, we will double the prize money from MK 3 Million to MK 6 Million” said Mkandaqwire.

In her reaction, the Guest of Honour who is also Zomba City Mayor Mellia Douglas applauded YONECO for the continued sponsorship. She said the youths need to take part in sports activities in order to showcase their talent.

“With the increase in sponsorship, YONECO has spurred me to come out big in next year’s Mayor’s Trophy competition. We need to give these young ones something to do so that they avoid from indulging in immoral behavior,” she said.

MASSA national treasurer Christopher Kabwazi called for proper coordination from all stakeholders in order to safeguard the sponsorship. He said much as the tournament went on well, there are some areas of improvements to be done.

In the final matches, Police Primary School emerged as victors in both boys and girls categories. In netball, they beat Mpotola Primary School by 20 baskets to 17 whereas in football, a lone goal from George Harare was enough to see his side beat Reticals FC 1-0 to clinch the trophy.

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