Zimbabwe NGO wins international sports award
Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
A LOCAL non-profit organisation, 4-H Zimbabwe, won the NGO of the Year Award at the 13th edition of the Peace and Sport International Forum in Monaco, France last week.
Peace and Sport is an international, neutral and independent organisation based in Monaco. It promotes peace using the power of sport.
Founded in 2007 by Pentathlon Olympic Medallist and World Champion Joel Bouzou, the organisation is under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The Peace and Sport International Forum is a major event on the international stage. It brings together government representatives, international sports organisations, civil society and the private sector involved in peace-through-sport actions.
This year, the main objectives of the event were to share knowledge, promote best practices, diversify partnerships and develop concrete solutions for peace around the world.
At the end of an intense day of discussion and debate held at Fairmont Monte Carlo in Monte Carlo, Monaco, a number of prizes were awarded to the guests.
At the beginning of the ceremony, George Weah, the President of the Republic of Liberia and 1995 Golden Ball winner, was presented with the Special Peace and Sport Award by Prince Albert II for his commitment to democracy and reconciliation in his country.
International tennis player Ons Jabeur, an inspiration to women and young people all over the world, was awarded the Peace Champion of the Year Award. She follows in the footsteps of French basketball international Rudy Gobert, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, and international footballers Lionel Messi and Blaise Matuidi.
Under the NGO category, the John Muchenje-led 4-H Zimbabwe earned the nomination through its Youth 4Peace and Students4Peace tournaments, which have seen members of rival political parties and student unions playing sports together.
Other nominees in this category included Fundación Golees of Costa Rica which uses football as a human rights-based approach to working with women and Luta pela Paz from Brazil, which uses boxing for peace.
In May, 4-H Zimbabwe hosted a tournament where various political parties played a series of netball and soccer matches.
“4-H Zimbabwe Foundation — a youth-led organisation working with the sport to promote peace and transform the lives of young people in Zimbabwe, has won the 2022 prestigious NGO of the Year Award sponsored by the Peace and Sport Forum.
The award was presented to 4-H Zimbabwe Executive Director, John Muchenje by Prince Albert II of Monaco at an event held in the Principality of Monaco on 30 November. The event brings together various high-level people from around the world to honour key champions for peace through sport,” reads a notice from Peace and Sport Forum.
In an interview, an elated Muchenje said 4-H Zimbabwe has continued to make inroads in bringing young people from various political parties in the country to play sports together.
He said the police come in as arbitrators all to use sport and its power to unite people and make it a powerful voice to communicate the message of peace.
“I want to thank all the stakeholders in Zimbabwe including all the political parties and other relevant institutions for making it possible to host various peace for sports initiatives in the country. In competitive sport, we have a winner who lifts the trophy but when we talk of Peace and Sport, participation is key and everyone is a winner,” said Muchenje.
He said the main thrust is to unite diverse communities, creating mutual respect, trust, tolerance, discipline and common understanding.
The awards were for the NGO of the year, recognising the work organisations have been doing using sport as a tool for peace and tolerance.
“4-H Zimbabwe is implementing a youth-for-peace program with youth from six political parties which include Zanu PF, CCC, and MDC-T among others. Our main objective is to bring young people together ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections, creating a peaceful environment,” said Muchenje.
He said winning the award shows that, the work they are doing is being appreciated at local, regional and international levels
He said 4-H Zimbabwe’s mission is to empower and capacitate youth to be responsible, caring and contributing leaders that effect positive change in the world around them.
“The project which is supported financially by the Government of Switzerland aims to foster engagement and unite traditionally divergent community groups by organising sports tournaments involving different communities, political parties, students’ unions, and security forces. Members of the police are invited to participate in the tournaments as players or referees, to smoothen the relations and improve the perception within communities,” said Muchenje.
He said the 4-H Foundation’s vision is to see a developed Zimbabwe where young people actively participate in sustainable development.
“Our key main thematic areas are peace and governance, sustainable food security, climate change education and action,” said Muchenje.
Bouzou, president and founder of Peace and Sport, said the NGO of the Year award recognises 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation for its Sport for Peace and Tolerance project, which aims to unite traditionally opposed community groups through the organisation of sports tournaments.
“By developing youth-focused programmes, 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation trains young leaders who are taking strong action to build a more inclusive and peaceful Zimbabwe. Congratulations to the 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation for this well-deserved Award,” he said.
African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Muchenje said in addition to winning the award in Monaco, 4-H Zimbabwe has also been selected to receive an award by the African Union-PAPS Awards Initiative for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on youth, peace, and security in Africa.
The Awards Initiative Ceremony will take place at African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on December 16.