8 Key Sports' Benefits in Violence Prevention: The Holistic Approach to Youth At-Risk

Diana G.Pinto,
The Creative Pen
Published in
5 min readFeb 17, 2022

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photo from Creative Commons CC0.

Can sports and recreation decrease violence in poverty-stricken communities?'

Some theories sustain that sports trigger violence because of the human instinct of survival and the win-at-all-costs" philosophy that has triggered youth violence related to sports.

However, researchers observed that sports and recreation strongly positively impact the marginalised groups from impoverished communities, providing significant effects on mental health reflecting on social behaviour.

Nonprofits should engage more in providing sports and recreation programmes to youth at-risk.

Running, soccer, basketball, tennis, dancing, you name it, all sports make the body more robust and the mind healthier, contributing to a decrease in violence.

As the African continent is home to 1.2 billion residents under 25 years old, based on a wealthy body of research, the United Nations advocated for policies directed to youth violence prevention extending it to the rest of the world.

Since then, the sports approach has become an essential pathway for individual and community development, targeting at-risk youth from low socio-economic environments.

Sports promote education, peace, violence prevention, tolerance, gender equality, and health. This sets the scene for social engineering.

At the same time that youth is a formidable force for a nation, they turn quickly into violence when faced with poverty, unemployment, unequal distribution of resources and lack of opportunities.

Sport is an effective way to change this route. Young people engaging in sports acquire essential life skills to break chronic poverty.

Players learn communication, collaboration and leadership skills that increase their confidence and better qualify them for the labour market.

From physical to mind transformation, sports and recreation outdoor activities strengthen the body, produce psychological benefits and boost a healthy mind enabling life transformation and decreasing violent communities.

But for this to happen, it is required engagement from teachers, coaches, volunteers and a well-structured programme able to bridge sports and life skills learning — from game to life.

Recreation: Here bellow, shows a video of the at-risk children and youth participants of the Shumbashaba Youth Development Programme answering the call of the SA president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to dance in celebration of their resilience and heritage:

At-risk children and youth from the Diepsloot township, South Africa

5 Key Sport's Benefits For The Mind

combats substance addiction through the chemical process of increasing the pleasure hormone dopamine by other means.

  • Outdoor activities accelerate the benefits of sports:

Ultimately, sports and recreation activities in the outdoors distract the mind from stressful and negative thoughts, tire the body, relax the mind, and provide a better night sleep. And this is essential for maintaining a healthy sense.

This way, teens can develop as players and individuals, which requires resilience in the game and life.

In the long run, students who play team sports from 14 to 18 years old have less stress and better mental health as young adults, impacting their communities.

Diversity: Friends playing basketball (picture from Istock)

3 Critical Sport's Social Benefits That Can Change Teen's Lives

  • Teens gain the strength to fight back against severe poverty (under 1$ a day). However, where adults have low literacy levels and high unemployment rates, children and teens are often neglected by unstable families and lived in violent communities.

Against this background, they discover, construct their place in the world, and affirm their identities. In a word, they need support, and it is here that the coach comes into action:

According to Brazilian soccer coach Jorginho (engaged in sport for development programme in Brazil), it is necessary to keep in mind that:

when teens realise that someone cares about them, in return, they will care about the guidelines, the training and the game demands.

  • Sports provide higher self-esteem. For the sake of development, the activities give students space to talk, discover, explore, and identify their strengths as players, which is a crucial step to increasing each individual's self-esteem.

Young people improve their self-esteem when developing athletic skills because they feel more positive about their bodies and physical abilities.

In other words, players learn communication skills, cooperation, empathy and conflict management when relating to other team members and rivals, overcoming obstacles and agreeing on solutions.

These abilities and competencies will help connect to others as members of society and build an identity.

But this requires guidance.

Coaches play a vital role in this equation. To play well, have fun and develop, the player must feel well about himself.

The coach's mission is to manage all these skills in the field and guide his learners in understanding that these skills are aspects of social life.

This mission entails looking at emotional competencies for students to become complete players, understand themselves as individuals, recognise their emotions and build trust. This transformation allows them to then integrate into society.

kids playing basketball street

In conclusion, sports offer multiple benefits: mental, physical, and spiritual health. Thus, it is worth the extra time, money, and driving that teens might require.

Ultimately, supporting teens to train will give them a strong foundation for physical and mental well-being, resulting in much less violent communities.

This possibility changes lives and breaks the chronic poverty cycle.

. With sports and recreation activities, teens experience more confidence, focus and alertness.

. Reduce negative tensions by giving space to improve cognitive skills, critical thinking and judgment skills.

. These will develop individuals more satisfied with life, cope with their conditions, and change their path.

. These positive consequences work as a circle affecting each stage of personal development.

. It is a "give and take" ongoing game:

The game gives the player, and the player gives back to the game, increasing the player's potential with positive repercussions to their life.

A healthy mind makes the right decisions which are crucial for teens who lack supervision and face daily dangerous environments.

This way, teens are equipped to change their lives and, thus, their communities.

A Volunteer from Attil. a story about coach Ahmed Kahle, who is volunteering for the junior football team in Attil

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Diana G.Pinto,
The Creative Pen

Writer and Consultant. Passionate about human and social development. MA in Holocaust & Genocide Studies. Nature Lover. diana-gpinto-consultant.com