Sports Action towards Harnessing Aspirations of Youth (SAHAY), launched on 15th December 2021 is a first of its kind policy initiative designed with an approach to use sport as a tool for development, conflict resolution and post conflict confidence building amongst the youth by harnessing their aspirations.
The youth- especially young women and girls are some of the most vulnerable and worst- hit in conflict zones and sadly, most governments have failed to nurture the aspirations of the impacted demographics. It is particularly important to note here that the nurturing of youth leaders or icons within affected communities plays an important role in providing an attractive and inspiring alternative to young people vis-a-vis the glamour of the gun.
Taking this idea forward, PDAG has developed SAHAY as a policy initiative wherein sports activities would take place in 5 districts highly affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) namely Paschimi Singhbhum, Saraikela Kharasawan, Khunti, Simdega and Gumla. These districts also overlap with the aspirational districts classified under the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) of the Government of India which have been identified as the 112 most under-developed districts in the country. SAHAY focuses entirely on the adolescent category (14-19 years) with equal focus on participation of girls and boys in both team and individual events across a three-tier framework – a hub-and-spoke model with panchayats being the lowest tier and districts being the highest.
The programme seeks to enable grassroot campaigns at scale against significant societal issues that have plagued the lives of the youth such as; child marriage, human trafficking, out-of-school youth, distress migration among youth, malnutrition, and gender sensitivity. Along with a changed outlook about themselves, SAHAY also looks to change the perception of women by boys and young men and making the latter a part of conversations and behaviours around the same.
Bringing forth the relevance of gender equality within the realm of sport, there is copious evidence that goes on to prove the correlation between sport and its impact on the lives of young women and girls. SAHAY as an evidence-based policy initiative looks at using sport for the socio-economic empowerment of young women especially in tribal regions. The programme looks at garnering the impact of sport as an escape from early and forced marriage and pregnancy, as a catalyst to living a better, more nourishing life at training centres, with adequate access to nutrition during adolescence, concentrating on excelling at sport, thereby and turning the focus onto an adolescent’s own development and identity. SAHAY also highlights the practical aspects of everyday life for young women including professional development and opportunities such as securing jobs in PSUs/ central and state government banks or as Academy coaches, thereby carrying the sporting legacy forward and training the next generation of athletes. As part of the initiative, four sporting disciplines namely football, hockey, volleyball, and athletics have been chosen for both boys and girls. Within the discipline of athletics, the focus will be on the four individual events of 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres and long jump. The 5 core LWE districts chosen for the programme are poised to cover approximately 72000 youth, both boys and girls in the adolescent category. It will also be spread across 55 blocks and 660 panchayats, which are some of the most backward regions of India.
At the lowest tier, registration of identified youth in the age bracket of 14 to 19 years, will be conducted through both offline and online mode. These youth will go on to represent the panchayat and ward level teams. The best players for each sport will be selected through inter-panchayat competitions and proceed to form the pool of talents at the block level competitions. As an outcome, this initiative will also help the state identify grassroots talent who could then be nurtured into national or international sports persons through scholarships at residential training institutes. It is expected that the first phase of the initiative will be completed within the next five to six months.
PDAG in association with the Government of Jharkhand could not be more excited to continue our work with SAHAY and significantly move the needle when it comes to Sport for Development and Conflict Resolution and look forward to SAHAY having a positive impact within the realm of youth development and gender parity.