Sports ‘protect the youth from radical groups’
Idle young people are like a ticking time bomb, regional coordinator Saleh warns
Sports is a good way of keeping the youth busy and protecting them against radicalisation, Northeastern leaders said yesterday.
The leaders said idle youth are easily convinced to join radical groups, such as al Shabaab.
Last week, the Siyad football tournament finals were held in Wajir town. The tournament started early last month and ended on Wednesday last week.
Twenty teams from the county participated. The event was sponsored by Wajir businessman Siyad Hassan. The tournament attracted hundreds of youths, who converged at Wajir stadium to cheer their teams.
The theme of the tournamnet was ‘No Radicalisation, Yes To Peace’. Teams were awarded sporting gear. Harambee Stars head coach Stanley Okumbi, Tarbaj MP Mohamed Elmi, Wajir South’s Abdullahi Diriye and Ndhiwa’s Augustino Neto were present.
Several of those interviewed by the Star welcomed the move to engage the youth in sporting activities, saying young people have become a soft target for extremist groups.
Supkem Garissa secretary Abdullahi Salat urged leaders from Mandera and Garissa counties to borrow a leaf from Wajir and partner with the government and the business community to host such tournaments.
“We need to see more of these sports in our counties. It should not be a oneoff thing but a continuous event. In doing so, we will have something to keep our youths busy,” the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims official said.
Northeastern regional coordinator Mohamud Saleh urged the local leaders to allocate funds for sports.
“Leaving youths idle is a ticking time bomb. We have in the past seen how they have become soft targets, thanks to lack of employment and idleness. Engaging the youth in sporting activities will also nurture their talents,” he said.
Garissa youth leader Hussein Salat accused local leaders of doing little to engage the youth. “As much as I welcome the initiative by a local businessman to partner with the county to engage the youth, I think the leaders should do more to sustain it,” he said.
A new tournament in all the subcounties will start this week.
Speaking during the occasion, Siyad urged the county government to invest in stadiums and training centres. “Sports is a productive way that can be utilised to keep the youth safe from social vices such as drug abuse, radicalisation and other criminal activities,” he said.
Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi has already taken the first step by moving the sports and youth docket to his office.