Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Africa's First 'Vuvuzela Tax'

press release:

20 June Moshi, Tanzania

Don't mention the V Word – why the East Africa Cup will tax the trumpet

'the East African Cup, an annual sport and education event in Tanzania – will be taxing spectators who bring vuvuzelas to spend the money on education programmes which benefit the youth of the region.'

The vuvuzela is a part of southern African sporting and cultural tradition and an essential part of the atmosphere the first African world celebration of football, or a kind of constant low pitched tinnitus which ruins football matches - it depends on your position.

The French team don't like them, and in today's Kenyan Nation newspaper the plastic trumpet was seen as, er, a political football as an editorial accused its critics in the 'Western media' of being anti-African in its condemnation of the buzzing.

As vuvuzela fatigue sets in, over in Tanzania, East Africa Cup tournament organisers are taking a much more pragmatic approach to things: at the youth sports and development tournament spectators are encouraged to come along and make some noise with whatever comes to hand, but if you do want to add some vu vu voom to proceedings you are being asked to produce a voluntary donation towards the cost of organising the event.

It's important to note that before a ball is kicked all of the participants in the tournament, young people from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia, are made to go back to school; they participate in workshops on topics like leadership skills, first aid, HIV and AIDS awareness and conflict resolution.

It's a learning curve for the people putting on the event too: there are training sessions for aspirant African referees and first aiders, and the organising committee get the experience of hosting a multinational sporting event – skills which range from project management, to financial planning to international diplomacy.

The tournament has been growing steadily over the last 10 years and in 2009 featured more than 1300 participants in an event whose winners included a team from Uganda featuring former child soldiers:

The voluntary 'vuvuzela tax' is a light-hearted way of bringing attention to the fact that for the tournament to thrive in the future it will need to be financially self-sufficient.

Currently partner organisations - in other words the youth teams and associations which provide the teams and organisational capacity to put on the event - contribute some costs, as do sponsors like Ultimate Security who provide guards to keep young people at the event safe.

Whilst the infrastructure at this event has volunteers at its core, a tournament of this scale costs in terms of travel, renting pitches, even providing healthy food for the several hundred young players.

Although audiences at this annual event aren't quite as high as a certain other event happening in South Africa right now, for those involved it truly is as magical.

Background/May press release:

The world is watching.

All eyes are on Africa this June – the glory, the sunshine, the skill and the spectacular setting: could this tournament be the best yet?

The East Africa Cup (EAC) now boasts 1300 participants from Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda and whilst some people will be looking to South Africa for their summer football fix, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania provides the stunning backdrop to the event whose aim is to 'empower youth through sports'.

In practical terms this means that the EAC is about more than football – in fact nobody kicks a ball until they have attended a morning workshop. These include topics like HIV and AIDS awareness, leadership skills and conflict resolution.

In fact the tournament brings together people who use sport in their community and young people from countries where contact has sometimes been through conflict.

Although the quality of the football is very high – teams that do well in the EAC typically go on to participate in the big Scandinavian tournaments like Dana Cup and Norway Cup, and often win their categories!

There is also an emphasis on improving the participation of girls. George Kamau, the chair of the Organization Committee, says: “The ideal objective is a gender ratio of 50/50 – the current ratio is 60/40 – but we are improving every year says.”

The participants are exposed to a unique blend of football and seminars encompassing issues like sports medicine, media training, leadership training, HIV aids awareness, conflict resolution, refereeing, coaching and cultural networking. 

There are also media training seminars and activities at the event provided by a team from the BBC World Service Trust. These help journalists cover sport and development issues, and help community leaders use the media more effectively in their work.

The EAC is annually held in the picturesque town of Moshi, under the brooding glaciers of the magnificent Kilimanjaro – during the last ten days of June. This year’s official dates are from June 22 – 27.

The event hosts four categories – Under 16 girls and boys, and Under 13 girls and boys. One of the main objectives of the EAC is also to foster the development of girls participation in their respective communities. Seminars and athletic activities therefore put a major emphasis on improving the participation of girls.

Partners in the EAC are formally Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), Kristen Idretts kontakt (KRIK), Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), and Christian Sports Contact (CHRISC). Other supporting partners are BBC, Right to Play, Norway Cup, Norges Idrettsforbund, Fredskorpset, Statoil, Ultimate Security, Tanzania Football Federation, Tanzania National Sports Council, and NORAD.

The World Service Trust is the BBC's international charity. It uses the creative power of media to reduce poverty and promote human rights. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/trust


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