During Sharekna’s Community Youth Mapping process, a youth-led data collection and analysis process, young people from Cité Ettadhamen shared that they felt frustrated due to a lack of opportunities in their community, especially related to sports. Those activities that were available lacked basic materials and infrastructure, which resulted in a lack of commitment in young people’s engagement. Consequently, local youth spent most of their spare time in cafés, as this was the only public space available to them, but were strongly interested in spaces where they can engage more actively in sports and cultural activities.
To respond to the needs expressed by these youth, the USAID-funded Sharekna Project to Support Youth and Empower Local Communities (Sharekna), is supporting local partner Association Ettadhamen Sports et Loisirs to provide a program of sporting events focused around boxing, judo, soccer and triathlon. The partner has taken over two derelict rooms in the Ettadhamen Children’s Complex to use for boxing and judo, bought new equipment, such as boxing gloves, mouth guards and punch bags, and gained regular access to a local soccer field. The partner has also engaged around 20 volunteer trainers and coaches, who are mentoring youth in their sporting achievements. They have been running weekly activities in each of the selected sports for some 200 youth since March 2018, targeting male and female participants aged 8-16 years.
In addition, the partner has organized three major sports competitions in different locations in Ettadhamen. The tournaments, aimed at young men and women aged 8-34 years, are intended to bring local youth together in a spirit of cohesion, solidarity and tolerance in the community. The first of these took place in March 2018 and included friendly competitions across 11 different disciplines, including judo, boxing, badminton, pétanque, dance, soccer, and even chess, using equipment provided by USAID.
These Sharekna-supported activities have provided an opportunity for young people from diverse social backgrounds to gather in positive environments, reach their higher potentials, and dream bigger dreams for the future. The renovations of various community spaces have created a sense of hope and greater safety among local youth in Ettadhamen, as well as among their guardians, who are now increasingly supporting their children’s engagement in the clubs’ activities. Moreover, Sharekna’s efforts to encourage gender parity have seen significant results, with girls actively and successfully participating in sports activities that are traditionally associated as male-only.
Firas Tabii is 14 years old. He joined the boxing club of Ettadhamen Sports et Loisirs one year ago. He has won a gold medal for boxing in each of the regional and national championships.
“Before the activity we didn’t have any equipment during the trainings. Now we have mouth guards, gloves and punch bags. Trainings are happening in a better environment, and our ambitions are becoming bigger and broader.
The trainers are very supportive. They are always here to encourage me. New people have joined since hearing about the changes in the club and the new facilities.
This year we are living a lot of changes in Cité Ettadhamen, with the renovation of the park and the youth center. We have new spaces and new clubs.”
Siwar Laabidi is 13 years old. She joined Ettadhamen Sports et Loisirs one year ago. She is the only female practicing in the triathlon, and also participates in the basketball and judo clubs. In May 2018, she participated in a regional competition in Menzah and won a gold medal with one of her colleagues.
“Everyone here is encouraging me. My family is very proud seeing my results and performances. This makes me very happy and gives me more energy.
My dream is to become a sports professor. I want to study at the sports school. I want to participate in international competitions, not only local or regional tournaments. I am confident that I can make good results.
I can see a remarkable change in Cité Ettadhamen, we did not have a youth center nor clubs before. We didn’t have spaces to do our trainings. Before, sessions happened in the park where we found delinquent youth. Now we don’t see them anymore and our parents are more encouraged to bring us here for the trainings. The same spaces have become safer: the park and the youth center. Even the number of youth coming every day has significantly increased with the new materials, the new youth center and the renovation and installations in the park.”
Ghofrane Ghazouani is 18 years old. She started at the Ettadhamen Sports et Loisirs judo club one year ago.
“In our club, we work hard to get to a performance that allows us to compete at the national and international levels. Judo needs a lot of discipline and concentration.
In the beginning, we did not have judo mats or uniforms. Middle class families cannot afford good uniforms for their kids. Training was not secure, and we tried to avoid certain contacts or techniques because the space was not appropriate. The support we got through the activity was very useful. We now have nice uniforms and secure judo mats. New members have joined the club. Even our families have become more supportive. Now we work more, and we have more training sessions. We also do public performances during the regional events.
Before the activity, our ambitions and goals were very limited. We used to miss the training sessions for fear of being injured. Now everything has changed, we are taking things more seriously, and our ambitions have grown. My ambition is to become a national champion. I want to encourage other youth to join us. The atmosphere is very friendly. The coaches are doing their best to support us.”