Line Up Live Up empowers youth and inspires civil society in Nigeria.

Sport can be more than a game

Abuja, 14 January 2022: The contribution of sport to sustainable development and peace has been broadly acknowledged. It promotes inclusion, fosters social change and empowers a communities and individuals alike. There is growing evidence that sport can be used to effectively engage young people through tailored interventions that challenge harmful stereotypes linked to violence, crime and drugs and instill positive behavioral attitudes.

UNODC’s Youth Crime Prevention through Sport (YCP) initiative uses sports and sports-based learning to teach young people key personal and social skills and help them to build their resilience and leadership in standing up as changemakers, engage their communities, and create safe public spaces for positive youth development.

Line Up Live Up (LULU), a flagship programme under this initiative, has been implemented in more than fourteen countries across the globe. Through interactive sessions and a tailored methodology, Line Up Live Up “transfers” sport experience into real life situations. It enhances the knowledge of participants on risks related to violence, crime and drug use, addresses young people’s attitudes and how these are affected by their normative beliefs. Most importantly, it provides them with the practical skills on how to handle situations in which they are confronted with violence, crime, drugs and other ani-social conduct in their schools, workplaces, families and social groups.

In order to further enhance the positive effects of Line Up Live Up UNODC works closely with civil society and youth led organisations, providing grants, capacity building and sport equipment to eleven NGOs in Brazil, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, South Africa and Uganda. However, many more have been inspired by the Line Up Live Up programme and seek to integrate life skills and other leanings outcomes in their work with youth, using sport.

In Nigeria,Turf Season, a Grassroots Football project in Lagos Nigeria, helps local youth, aged 16 to 24 years old to access education and career opportunities, and lead lives free from crime, drug abuse and anti-social behaviour. It uses sports and media to impact society, support the local economy and create jobs. Turf Seasons, offers weekly training sessions, football camps and exhibition games to engage local grassroots talents nationwide. It also organises a grassroots football league every year since 2019 which gives local players and teams a global platform to showcase their skills. However, for many grassroots footballers a career transition is inevitable around age 28 or sooner. This is oftentimes stressful, emotionally and mentally draining experience for majority of these individuals and their families. For Turf Season knowledge and mastery of life skills could be a competitive advantage for youth and career development, not just in football but off the pitch as well. “Line Up Live Up programme can help grassroot organization like us to impact youth lives, football and society in a positive way, supporting youth to make better decisions and bring positive changes in their lives and in the community” says Paschal Agonsi, the young coach leading the organization.

Paschal found out about Line Up Live Up on the web and started using some of the training materials with the participants in his grassroots football initiative since March 2021. “Self-improvement is a very important value for us at Turf Season. We are always on a look out of how we can improve our players’ development. Of all the life skills program options we were presented with, LULU was exceptional and stood out for its sports-themed approach. LULU’s brilliance is how it teaches complex life skills with simple sport exercises that can be easily understood by just anyone”.

Participants report that have deeper understanding towards recognizing certain behaviors and habits as harmful or useful to their life and future success. Increased self-esteem and confidence is also reported and participants feel better equipped to deal with various life situations as a result of the training. Turf Season trainers also report that the program has helped them to develop more emotionally aware and responsible players, which is critical to the creation of a safe space for learning and healthy friendships and cooperation among youths of different backgrounds, beliefs and ethnic traditions. “Line up Live up sessions has increased participants awareness and understanding on how actions and rules play a major part in achieving one’s goals and being successful within the team as well as in society at large”, says Paschal. Turf Season is keen to promote Line Up Live Up in Nigeria, advocating also for other grassroots football clubs to adopt the program.

UNODC launched the implementation of Line up Live up in Nigeria in August 2021 in partnership the Office of the Vice President’s At-Risk-Children’s Programme (ARC-P), initially training to 24 coaches from five states in the delivery of the Line Up Live Up curriculum. In Gombe and Ekiti the trained trainers have conducted meetings introducing the programme of stakeholders. This was followed by a three week training for selected facilitators in all the pillars of the ARC—P. These facilitators will support the LULU coaches in each state tracking and ensuring that the children they are assigned to will benefit from active participation in the programme in selected sites. Remaining three states have committed to start implementation in the first quarter of 2022.