On Sunday the 17th of June, YMCA Carion branch hosted a big football tournament for the local community, at one of the national stadiums in Madagascar. Supported by TECNO, Red Cross and the Federation of Malagasy football, the branch managed to create a safe space for youths not only by hosting around 300 people, but at the same time by recruiting new members. This tournament has been led by YAC participants especially by Franklyn Otieno and Ingrid Føsker, and aimed for putting young people in the driver seat, when the two YAC participants
First, we got in touch with the Malagasy Football Federation, for permission of using the national stadium in Carion. The next step was writing proposal letters, and then engaging more stakeholders, which were different banks, food companies, and then in the end TECNO, the mobile phone Company. TECNO really liked our idea about uniting both girls and boys from different places and communities through football, and therefore gave us tools for the tournament as footballs, t-shirts and gifts we could give to new members of YMCA. Another important stakeholder we got, was the chief of the district of Manjakandriana. He helped us getting the awards, and connected us to the local radio, which made us reach out to even more people. We made communication tools and went out to the different local communities to mobilize youths. We did great until the director of the stadium called us five days before the scheduled date and announced that the stadium was overbooked, even though we had called many people several times for confirmation. We changed the date and had to do all the community mobilization once again, ensuring that we would have participants. Thus, arranging the tournament on a Sunday made us lose a lot of teams who planned to attend church service.
But on the 17th of June, we could finally fulfill what we had been working towards. The weather was good, the crowd was at the rendezvous, and the youths played the whole day, where the winners got a sheep, which is due to the Malagasy culture. Issues such as language barrier, tension between teams and lack of communication, occurred, but we solved it in a good way, and we succeeded
We achieved everything we wanted which mainly were to create a safe space for both young men and women, as well as gaining more members. We learned the importance of communication, and the language barrier, and finally, that being a good leader requires the ability to delegate tasks even though it seems easier to do everything by yourself in your own way.
Working with people from other countries is not a piece of cake. With different perceptions of how an event, such as a football tournament, should look like, and what’s the best way to make it work well, you’re sometimes required to take a step back and let others opinion get through. It’s frustrating at that very moment, but it makes you learn a lot, which you can also bring back to your country afterwards. That is called exchange, and that’s what we are here for.