As people around the world prepare for the World Cup this summer, a different type of soccer tournament is taking place in Northern Uganda. This one includes 15 teams from Ogur and Abako sub-counties of Northern Uganda and 1 team made up of staff from our local partner. These teams are competing in a WASH (Water, Hygiene, and Sanitation) Soccer Tournament - a totally innovative way of approaching education, empowerment, and hope.
When I first heard about the soccer tournament, I was not sure what to think and wondered if it would work. The soccer players are trained in basic WASH and tournament scores include an evaluation of village transformation in WASH including the presence of drying racks for dishes, latrines for using the bathroom, and tippy taps for washing hands. While I wondered how well this would work, good development is based on local innovation, and this is no exception.
The first tournament blew expectations out of the water as young men were transformed by working for a common goal and villages were transformed in WASH. I will be visiting Northern Uganda in May and I look forward to telling you about communities rallying behind their teams, young men filled with pride and hope for the future, and health improved due to changes in WASH.
~ Pamela Crane, PhD, Africa Field Manager