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Sports can change the world

25 young people came together for ten days to attend an international sports camp in Berlin and Brandenburg. At the "German-Africa Sports Camp", the talented up-and-coming trainers from Africa and Germany experienced moments of emotion – and more. With one participant even getting a very special present in the end.

Nelson Mandela, the renowned freedom fighter from South Africa, saw a great opportunity in sports. "Sport has the power to change the world," the politician once said. People can meet on an equal footing in sports, regardless of their origin, religion or skin colour.


This proved to be the motivation for the Partnership with Africa Foundation e.V. to organise the international sports camp – which was held in 2014. 25 young people from Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda came together from 12 to 21 September in Berlin and Brandenburg for the "German-African Sports Camp". And Nelson Mandela's dictum really did waft over the 10-day event.

"What we're hoping is that something new in sports can develop and grow with this group of young trainers," said one of the foundation's project managers, Harald Eisenhauer. The intention being that via sports, encounters and exchanges on an equal footing would in fact happen – a hope that soon proved true.

And at the end of the camp, a close-knit group had been established, connected by numerous shared experiences. These included for instance a visit to a home game by the local Hertha BSC first league football team in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Or the shared training sessions. Within a few days, the group had a sense of cohesion, with everyone realising after a short time they were all equals. Regardless of whether they were boxing, playing basketball, football or volleyball, the participants forgot the differences that had still separated them just a few moments before.

Sports was utilised here in order to overcome their cultural differences – something that Hilda Nyriraguhirwa from Uganda and Birte Bernhard from Germany also experienced. Both of them train children and youths in their home countries and are sportswomen by conviction. Hilda manages a rugby team and Birte an acrobatics group. "I was trained myself for years, and I'd like to pass on the things I've learned, said Birte. Sports have always been a part of her life. "Movement is something that I need."

Hilda sees it in a similar way. "Just one day without sports and I have the feeling that I'm not well," the African said. Sports gives her an incredible amount of fun and pleasure. And both of the young women are taking home more than just impressions from the sports camp. They were able to learn about different kinds of sports at it and want to use these experiences to make a contribution at home.

However one participant, Charles Okwonga, had more in his luggage when he went home after the sports camp than before. The young man from Uganda uses a wheelchair. Yet sports still mean quite a lot for him, he explained. And what he gains especially from his sporting efforts is physical and mental strength. In  his home country, he plays basketball and trains a team. Before he returned home, he got a very special present. All of the camp participants gave him a new wheelchair.

And now he is able to take even better care of the people with disabilities in his field of sports.


"The trainer is the key to the sportswomen and men," said the camp's project manager, Vincent Rödel. During the event, attention was given to ensuring that values were conveyed. With the young trainers now in a position to pass on these values at home. In this way, a large number of sportswomen and men can be reached in Germany – and Africa. With Nelson Mandela's dictum now coming that bit closer to reality.


The "German-African Sports Camp" was organised and held as part of the COMENGA Programme from the partnership with Africa Foundation e.V. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provided financial support for the project.

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