OKS. Sport is beneficial for prisoners and improves their living conditions in detention. These young people lead sedentary lives and are prone to health issues, since they live in enclosed quarters. As such, it is essential that they be given the opportunity to develop their motor skills. Before we started our sessions, many of the young people we work with were suffering from illnesses related to inactivity, such as diabetes and obesity. This is no longer an issue, which is already a positive step. Along with teaching sports, we also offer education and socialisation programmes: we try to communicate with these young people who have been in trouble with the law and give them guidance.
We also work on maintaining the social ties between prisoners and prison staff, by organising matches. These events are an opportunity for us to diffuse any tension between the two groups. Prisoners and staff begin to communicate more easily after having played together.
We also invite people from outside to come and play matches with the prisoners. The goal is to change people’s perceptions of prison. In Africa, prisoners are discarded. They have no value. When people from outside visit prison, they realise that prisoners are people just like them.
Prisoners are allowed to chat with visiting players once the match is over, and visitors leave this experience with a completely different outlook on prison. Very often, those who have been once want to come again. They realise that these are people who need help and that they can play a part in supporting them. Their view of prisoners changes and this breaks down prejudices.
These matches also enable prisoners to remain connected to society, therefore making their reintegration easier. Prisoners who participate in our activities learn to follow rules and respect discipline. We measure discipline by looking at teamwork and personal performance. It’s our way of rewarding them and facilitating their reintegration. In addition to sports, prisoners can also participate in our workshops which teach skills that generate income, such as: baking, farming, beekeeping, sewing and beauty therapy. We do more than just sport, that is merely a pretext. Our ultimate goal is to help prisoners reintegrate into society.