The African Beach Soccer Championship, held from 21st to 28th October 2022, in the Tourist Town of Vilanculo, Inhambane province, gathered around 18,000 people including players, top individuals in the Football field and others, supporters and general public, who, in addition to watching football, were part of an environmental awareness chain for the benefit of marine biodiversity, especially the Dugong.
HOW SPORTS CAN INFLUENCE ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS: EXPERIENCES FROM THE 2022 BEACH FOOTBALL CAN
By the way, how can sports influence environmental awareness and promote changes in attitudes for better conservation of biodiversity?
For the National Beach Soccer coach – Abineiro Ussaca, sports can play a key role in raising awareness of the society and in particular of the soccer supporters to contribute to a clean and healthy environment, especially for marine biodiversity.
“As sportsmen, we are a fundamental key to influence people in the protection of the environment, and we should be an example for the society. We have, for example, the duty to replace all the disposable containers that we use and deposit them in the right place, since all the solid waste left outdoors ends up in the sea, and when such waste goes into the sea, they cause irreparable damage to the species that live in that habitat.”
Inside Vilanculo arena, where the 2022 Beach Soccer CAN took place, the Foundation for the Conservation of Biodiversity (BIOFUND), set up an exhibition of marine biodiversity, which during the championship was a mechanism for disseminating information on the relevance of the habitats for marine species and of both for the mankind. Still within the scope of environmental awareness in Vilanculo, BIOFUND, the Ministry of Land and Environment (MTA), the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), the Bazaruto Archipelago National
Park (PNAB) and Reciclagem e Serviços, worked together in a series of environmental education activities aimed at protecting the oceans and marine life. Highlights include cleaning the beaches, planting mangroves, lectures at primary and secondary schools in Vilanculo, and a special lecture aimed at players from the Mozambican Beach Soccer team. These actions had a significant impact on young students, athletes and the local public, and reached around 6000 people directly.
“We welcome the guidelines from BIOFUND and partners, as sportsmen and digital influencers. We are going to disseminate this message of environment conservation, we want to convey to other people how important it is to conserve biodiversity. We appreciate this initiative which has awakened our environmental awareness and responsibility. We will do our part!” Ângelo Tomas, Captain of the National Beach Soccer Team.
Football is a mass sport with great educational potential, capable of contributing to the training of citizens and influencing behaviour change. In this way, the African beach soccer championship was a vehicle for promoting the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity.
“These results were achieved because there was an engagement of multiple teams. Regardless of our differences, we all look to the same goals. The initiative was very well aligned and the team work was excellent!” Stressed Armado Nguenha – Administrator of the BANP.