Making Stars Of Our Own – Journey to the Revival and Professionalisation of Indigenous Games

Today, our world faces generational challenges, from poverty and hunger, to climate change, to the COVID-19 pandemic, to conflicts and wars. More than ever, we need to overcome our differences and unite as a team to tackle these obstacles/challenges and to create a safer, more peaceful, and more sustainable future for all.

We at Sysy House of Fame believe that we can achieve this using one amongst many other powerful tools: Sport, more especially Indigenous Games.

The intrinsic values of sport such as teamwork, fairness, discipline and respect are understood all over the world and can be utilized in the advancement of solidarity and social cohesion. We are building on this potential to revive and professionalize one of the world’s oldest, yet underrated participation sports – Indigenous games.

Indigenous games tell stories of history, heritage and culture through the processes and songs. They encourage interactions and communication among players. Friendships are built, misunderstandings resolved on these grounds and skills and good values are learnt.

Unfortunately, the games are gradually going extinct, eroding the gains we have accumulated over time, from the unique cultural impact they carry along through the generations.
The intricacies and dynamics of these indigenous sports are quite unique to communities and SHF is leveraging the enormous potentials of these participatory sports to enhance intercultural and social cohesion.

The first edition of the dodgeball tournament that was held on the 06th of May 2022 served as a pilot to test the impact of the project. Being the first ever school tournament in Cameroon, athletes were able to witness a mindset transformational moment as they lived the professional experience of what used to be a mere recreational activity.  

The uniqueness of the indigenous game is that it involves active and inclusive participation of both boys and girls in the same teams. Divided into 4 teams of 10 competing athletes each, We had 40 active players and 20 supporting athletes from the CBC Menda school who displayed both athletic and social skills while competing for the trophy and back to school packages. Awards included but not limited to school bags, books, and other study materials to support participants in the upcoming school year, by reducing the burden on parents.

This tournament did not only change community mindset on the importance of indigenous sports but it also raised hope for a new kind of commitment to collective efforts in overcoming community challenges and respect for different cultures and viewpoints. We can’t overstate the importance of social skills enhanced during this tournament: teamwork, respect, tolerance, resilience, losing respectfully, and sportsmanship. 

With the success recorded during the test phase, there has been a high request from other schools to replicate this project on a larger scale and therefore this year 2022/2023. We are expanding this tournament to an inter-school competitions involving four (4) schools.

Our vision is to make stars of our own by professionalizing these almost extinct games, transforming them to a tool for socio-cultural and economic sustainable development

"The most powerful thing about this year’s programme is the fact that it is going to support young talents with full package scholarships to support their educational endeavors. As usual, we shall maintain the winning trophies and prizes that we had during our test phase, but we are also looking at how to support the schools involved with sports and didactic materials. I’m excited."

Contemporary sports have limited infrastructure to benefit the hundreds of thousands of persons longing to participate. On the other hand, we have these games that can be revived and professionalized for all. From developing professional structures to small scale home play for all, much is underway to reaching our final destination which – making stars of our own.

“I think to successfully revive games that are almost extinct because they are considered primitive among other reasons yet are the most powerful in terms of impact, we need to have a holistic and sustainable approach. That is why we are working on key aspects such as researching etiquette surrounding the games, standardizing the processes and rules, redefining and amplifying processes and other dynamics, training stakeholders and athletes, and developing frameworks and rules for the professional run of this project.’’

The idea of #MakingStarsOfOurOwn is the embodiment of Sysy House of Fame’s raison d’etre; supporting communities to be architects of the change they want.


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