A Remarkable Football Gala in Nyakasinina

Written by Christopher Opio, on behalf of the Ugandan coalition of JWH grantees

On May 19 and 26, 2024, Nyakasinina village in Kabaale Subcounty, Hoima district, became the lively center of a unique mix of sports and climate activism. The Climate Football Gala, organized by a diverse group of environmental and community organizations, brought together over 2,500 participants and spectators over two consecutive weekends.The event successfully combined the love for football with the urgent need for climate awareness and action, making it an inspiring model for community engagement.

The Power of Collaboration

The Climate Awareness Football Gala was organized by a group of prominent youth organizations and seven beneficiaries of the Joke-Waller Hunter (JWH) initiative. These organizations include the Oil Refinery Residents Association (ORRA), Youth for Green Communities, Friends with Environment in Development, Fridays for Future, Strategic Response on Environment Conservation, Water and Environment Media Network, and Conservation and Eco energy Initiative. The JWH beneficiaries with support from Both ENDS under GAGGA support have teamed up to combine their skills and knowledge to fight against climate change and contribute to a just energy transition campaign in Uganda.

Diverse Participation

The event’s Participants came from various villages in Kabaale Subcounty, including Nyakasinina, Kabaale, Iyatal, Katooke,Nyamasoga, Kwaki, Kigaaga, and Ngemwa. Spectators also came from Buseruka, Kaseeta, and Kizirafumbi in Hoima and Kikuube districts,showing the wide appeal and strong community support for the initiative.

Event Planning and organization

Effective planning was key to the event’s success. The organizing committee,made up of ten members from Kabaale Subcounty, included a mix of youth, women, and men, ensuring everyone was represented. ORRA facilitated pre-event meetings, involving leaders from each football team to set rules and highlight the event's focus on climate change.

Radio ads on TERRA FM and SPICE FM helped spread the word, while preparation meetings made sure all participants understood theevent's goals of promoting both sportsmanship and climate change awareness.

Impressive Attendance and Outreach

The turnout exceeded expectation, with over 1,000 people on the first day and more than 1,500 on the second. To make the most of the event's educational impact, ORRA and its partners handed out over 2,000 leaflets and stickers in Alur, Runyoro, and English, with messages like "Climate action starts with you," "Protect Mother Earth," and "Plant more trees." They also talked directly with spectators and used public address systems to share climate change information, ensuring everyone got the message, even without printed materials.

Local leaders, including council chairpersons and parish councilors,attended the final day of the gala, showing their support and appreciation for the initiative. Their presence highlighted the importance of the event and encouraged more activities that are similar in the future.

Achievements and Impact

The Climate Football Gala achieved remarkable milestones. The event reached over 2,000 people, effectively engaging a broad demographic spectrum, including children, youth, women, elders, and persons with disabilities. It also attracted the support of local leaders,fostering a sense of community-wide involvement.

The event's success was evident in the enthusiastic participation and the positive reception from community members and leaders alike. It highlighted the potential of informal gatherings to unite diverse groups and promote crucial issues like climate change.

Future Directions

The organizing bodies are committed to building on this success. Plans are underway to host more targeted events, such as women's football marches, youth activities, and games for the elderly and people with disabilities. Follow-up meetings with the organizing committee and local leaders will help refine future events and ensure they continue to leverage communal gatherings for climate education effectively.

The Climate Football Gala in Nyakasinina stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. By combining the universal love for football with the urgent need for climate action, the event not only entertained but also educated and inspired. As communities continue to face the challenges of climate change, such innovative approaches will be crucial in fostering awareness and driving collective action.

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