Sunday, 1 July 2012

East Africa Cup 2012

As I write this blog entry the closing ceremony is taking place. There's dancing both on- and off-stage, vuvuzelas, people laughing and exchanging contact details with their new friends from different countries... it feels like a festival.

Its an amazing atmosphere, which is very impossible to describe, so I won't try. But as the sun sets on the ninth East Africa Cup, it's time to look forward as well as reflecting on the past achievements of this unique event.

From a small football tournament with only a few hundred players and optional workshops, it has become Africa's biggest celebration of football, fellowship and education, bringing in teams from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

What was simply a youth sport tournament has become a week-long centre of excellence for people using sport in their community throughout the year.

From first aid and refereeing to film making and health education, leaders from around the region can learn skills they take back to their community.

The young players themselves, more than 1300 of them don't just play football, because this isn't just a sporting event. They attend seminars in things like conflict resolution, leadership and AIDS awareness. They make friends from other countries and learn about their cultures.

As well as young sportspeople, dancers and actors are a big part of the EAC. They've been playing at the closing ceremony, indeed every night; this year they also went out into the community, performing music with a message and pop up street theatre on the streets of Moshi.

© Nick Raistrick/East Africa Cup
As ever the results of the tournament aren't who happens to score the most goals. The biggest prizes are for fair play not football prowess.

(It's the football that drives the passion, so it wouldn't be right to congratulate the winning teams. For a full list of these, please visit the East Africa Cup Facebook page: )

Looking forward, with next year the 10th anniversary of the East Africa Cup, what next? The organisers promised some surprises at the closing press conference.

But the funding challenge for the East Africa Cup is enormous, and for the event to continue to survive and thrive it needs to tell its story. Future sponsors will want to see evidence of the change in people's lives that learning trough sport can bring.

We hope that you can help and thank you for your support in getting us this far.

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