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Courageous Cecafa chooses Darfur


At times you have to step right into the middle of the storm to calm it. Such was the case when three lives were lost and scores injured in the Boston Marathon bombing last month.

Several teams and athletes stepped right in to offer moments of silence at games, prayers and even to defy the cowardly bombers further. The London marathon, which was just a few days later, went ahead without a glitch.

The One Fund, a charity established for those most affected in the bombing, raised more than $10 million, with New Balance kicking in with $1 million and Adidas announcing it would contribute all the proceeds from a limited-edition “Boston Stands as One” T-shirt. Some proceeds from the London Marathon were also sent to a fund to help the victims.

That is the right way to attack the storm, not letting the affected people deal with it alone, without any glimpse of hope. They need all the empathy they can get. They need to be shown they still mean a lot to humanity.

Nothing has played that role better than sport. Sport has helped break the barriers of racism and the stereotypes that often come out of Africa.

That is why, despite their shortcomings, Africa will ever be thankful to Sepp Blatter and Fifa for starting a rotational programme that eventually landed the World Cup on African soil in 2010.

It was a bold move and boy did it work out well in South Africa. That decision from Fifa broke barriers. It changed the face of Africa. The world outside Africa wondered where the pictures of hungry children on international TV had gone and where footage of people shooting at each other on the streets had gone.

That is why I wholeheartedly commend and back the Cecafa chiefs for their daring move. In deciding to move this year’s Kagame Cecafa Club to the troubled Sudan Western State of Darfur in June, Cecafa Secretary General Nicholas Musonye’s team were making yet another valiant move.

They were venturing into unchartered waters, deciding to take over 10 countries into an area that has faced civil war since 2003.

Yet that is precisely what Darfur needs. They needto breathe again, to hope again, to enthuse about life. Just like the rest of us.

“I am ready to go there because Darfur should have an equal chance,” said Lawrence Mwalusako, secretary general of Yanga, the Cecafa reigning champions, to BBC Sport.

“I won’t feel worried because they have made such a decision in order to make peace. If we come together and play football, people will love football, instead of thinking of fighting. They will only think of watching football.”

The choice may not have an impact on the future of sport as big as the World Cup down South did but it will still be significant to the six million desperate people of Darfur.

Two stadiums are near completion, according to Cecafa, and three artificial turfs are a consideration.

All this will comes with jobs, permanent or temporary. The world will also get to see another side of Darfur, which could change the face and fortunes of the region in one clean sweep.

That is the beauty of sport. It knows no boundaries. It speaks one language. It breaks barriers.

Let’s catch up on Twitter: @TheLoveDre


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