Zambian youth look to sports programs to escape poverty

LUSAKA, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) — For many youth in slums and other vulnerable communities of Zambia, sports programs have become a way of getting out of the doldrums of poverty.
It is for this reason that sports academies found in these places are now attracting a lot of young participants.
"I started participating in volleyball because not only am I passionate about the sport but also want to use it to better myself economically," said Beauty Chishimba, who plays for Spiking Stars, an amateur volleyball team in Lusaka, Zambia's capital.
The 16-year-old Chishimba went on to explain that playing volleyball gives her hope for a better future and that she hopes to use the sport to move her family who reside in Chipata compound, a low-income area in Lusaka, from poverty.
Her sentiments were echoed by George Moyo, 21, an upcoming football star from Misisi compound, a slum in Lusaka, who pointed out that investing in trade sports is paying dividends for many youths in Zambia.
"I train very hard so that I can one day play for the national team. I want to give my mother, who is a single parent, and my siblings a better life," said Moyo who is under Misisi Football Academy.
Among the sports that youths are turning to in order to secure better livelihoods include football, netball, volleyball, basketball and rugby.
A visit to Olympic Youth Development Center, a sports facility in Lusaka revealed that an increasing number of young people from low-income areas of the town are participating in various sports programs offered at the center.
"We encourage them to take up the sport so that they change their lives for the better. The majority of young people that come through are from vulnerable and desperate environments," explained Rodgers Chishimba, a volleyball coach based at Olympic Youth Development Center.
He added that along with guiding them in their sporting programs, the center also facilitates for the young people's educational support so that they can stay in school.
"The idea is ensuring that these youths not only have a chance at a better life but also stay away from harmful vices and company by being in school," Chishimba said.
He further observed that professional that are doing well economically are giving hope to young people in slums and low-income areas of the country and that many of the youths are being inspired to venture into sports to avert poverty.
Chishimba also asserted that aside from helping to take many young people out of the doldrums of poverty, sports programs provide them with skills to be disciplined and responsible citizens. Enditem
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