Orji, Owerri North, Imo State, in a pioneering effort to raise awareness and advocate for the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), an inter-community football tournament brought together over 200 youths from Mbaitolu and Owerri North in Imo State.
The event, held at Orji Primary School, was organized by the Young Men’s Network Against Sexual & Gender-Based Violence, Imo State Chapter, with support from Youth Hub Africa under the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme on the erlimination of Female Genital Mutilation.
Felxfame Enisire, the State Program Coordinator of Young Men’s Network, emphasized the innovative and impactful nature of the football match as a means to reach a wider audience of young people.
Speaking to the media after the event, he stated, “The football match is an innovative and impactful way to raise awareness, engage communities, advocate for abandoning this harmful practice, and reach a wider audience of young people in their space of interest.”
The tournament featured two football clubs, one from Orji in Owerri North and the other from Mbieri in Mbaitolu Local Government Area (LGA). As the footballers displayed their skills on the field, they were not only competing for victory but also joining forces to combat a deeply ingrained cultural practice that affects countless women and girls.
During the event, members of the Young Men’s Network took the opportunity to sensitize the gathered audience about the crucial role of men in ending FGM in Imo State and Nigeria. The participants were educated about the harmful consequences of FGM and encouraged to play an active part in raising awareness and advocating for its elimination within their communities.
The footballers and their coaches expressed their appreciation to UNFPA and Youth Hub Africa for their innovative approach to using sports as a medium for change.
They were delighted to see men coming together to enjoy a game of football while simultaneously learning about the harmful practice of FGM, which often impacts their mothers, sisters, and wives.
In response, they pledged to take the knowledge and messages they acquired during the event to their respective families and communities. This commitment, they hope, will contribute to making FGM a thing of the past in their generation.
The inter-community football tournament served as a testament to the power of sports in promoting social change and raising awareness about critical issues such as FGM. Through innovative initiatives like these, organizations and communities can come together to create a brighter and safer future for women and girls, free from the harm of FGM.