Cultivating the competitive spirit

Courtesy of International The News

Jan Khaskheli,
Sunday, May 27, 2012

Karachi

While travelling through the flood-affected areas of Badin, one can now witness a truly astonishing sight: two basketball courts bathed in floodlights that are powered by solar energy.

The courts are the result of a joint initiative of the Indus Development Forum (IDF), the Laar Environmental Program Awareness Forum (LEAF) and industrialist-cum-philanthropist Pervaiz Lodhie.

The objective behind this initiative is to engage the youth, many of whom are unable to pursue their education because of poverty and displacement, in healthy activities that keep them away from joining criminal gangs or falling prey to drug addiction.

When this writer visited the courts, which are located on the outskirts of the Ramzan Mallah and Deenar Talpur villages, they were packed with children. Three teams were taking part in a basketball tournament organized by the NGOs– with each team having received training from a basketball coach from Karachi.

Residents of Deenar Talpur say this is the first initiative of its kind in their area, and that the tournament had attracted crowds of youths and local people from nearby villages.

Many of these people are still living in uncertainty after being displaced by the floods.

“This initiative will also help school children recover from the shocking scenes they witnessed when the floods devastated their villages,” explained Masood Lohar, National Coordinator UNDP Green Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program.

Lohar believes that the biggest benefit of competitive sports, aside from the obvious health benefits, is that they promote social interaction.

The development of the courts was funded by Pervaiz Lodhie, who claims to have traveled all the way from the Thar Desert to the flood-hit areas of Sindh to distribute solar powered lamps to the flood-affected people. Lodhie has also provided the teams with equipment and sports kits, and says he is willing to fund similar projects in other villages in the area.

He calls his efforts a “war on darkness”. “I want to see the local youth come and play together,” he says, “I want to see this in the far off areas, where people have no access to electricity.”

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