PPI – South Africa Coach Reflects on United Nations Camp in Sweden

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South African participants sing their national anthem at the UNOSDP camp.

Earlier this month PPI – South Africa coaches Siyanda “Billtong” Nxumalo and Thando Msweli took part in a United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) camp.  Hear about Siyand’s experience below.

Two weeks ago I went on a journey of a lifetime, to a United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) camp in Stockholm, Sweden.  During the camp we received both theoretical and practical training from some of the world’s leading organizations in sport for development such as The Power of Sport Foundation, Youth Sport Trust, International Paralympic Committee, and the United Nations.  I was a representative of PeacePlayers International, which develops youth basketball programs in communities affected by conflict.

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UNOSDP camp participants enjoy new friendships.

I was a little nervous because it was my first time flying and the flight to Sweden was over twelve hours; thankfully, PeacePlayers International – South Africa Coach Thando Msweli traveled with me.  When we arrived at the Swedish airport we met other South African participants and Jamie Laflamme, the head of international programs of The Power of Sport Foundation.  When we arrived at the Boson Sport Facility we met the other 21 participants from over ten countries.

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Siyand in his UNOSDP apparel

Through workshops we learned from different organizations on how to use education and sport to tackle the world’s most pressing issues.  I also enjoyed trying other sports these organizations used:  boxing, table tennis, rugby, and soccer. The sports that took me most out of my comfort zone were boxing and rugby because of the violence involved.  I understood the self-discipline needed to play these sports, when you take a hit and need to keep your composure.

During the UNOSDP camp, I learned the importance of PeacePlayers International and my job as a coach to teach young people important skills of leadership, communication, and peacebuilding.  I learned that all the great leaders first have to learn how to follow.  I learned that taking calculated risks and having a growing mindset are important for growth.  The experience showed me that sports can span across any culture to be a tool for change.  I am looking forward to bringing these lessons back to PPI-SA as I continue to grow as a coach and leader.

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