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Sunday, 06 November 2022 18:54

Cambridge Community Sports Project Report

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Project Title. The Cambridge Community Sports Project

Project ID 20182431

Project Final Report:

The project ended in September 30 2022. We have organised 18 of the 20 events we had to deliver. We have organised monthly football practice sessions every last Saturday of the month. About 120 people attended the different sessions. The venue of the training sessions is the Cambridge community stadium, Abbey sports field. We hired 3 coaches (Stephan Bessong, Jacques Wolani and Michael Bisong) to coach participants during the practice sessions and football matches. The coaches offered suitable training programmes to develop the psychical fitness of everyone who took part in the project. Beneficiaries participated in different activities ranging from football, running/jogging, lifting weights, press ups, walking and short sprints. The coaches understands that not everyone loves the same sport so beneficiaries were offered the opportunity to choose which activity they wanted to do as everyone have their favourites. The coaches acknowledged the fact that people have not exercised for a long time following the lockdowns so training sessions have been organised in the way that is suitable to everyone as the aim is to get people back to fitness to promote their general wellbeing and reduce the risk of major illnesses.

On Saturday 18 June, 2022, we organised a grand football tournament at the Cambridge stadium. The event attracted more than 100 people. Four football teams team took part in the community event tournament. The Cambridge University Press, The Veterans of United Kingdom (VUKA), Legends of Zimbabwe and the Cambridge local football team. A total of 3 games were played in the form of semi-finals and finals. Each team had 25 players and the games lasted 1 hour – 30 minutes each half. Teams were advised to make regular substitutions during the games to reduce the risk of accidents. Although the teams had their own coaches, Stephen Bessong, Jacques Wolani and Michael Bisong ensured the smooth running of the day by organising how the matches are played provided support to the teams as needed. We also had 20 volunteers who actively took part in the organisation of the event as over 300 people across Cambridge attended. The legends of Zimbabwe won the event trophy. The coach of the team JB stated “we are delighted to have won the trophy but more importantly we are quite happy to have attended and met our brothers and sister from other countries” “I can assure you that we will be coming to Cambridge again to all events organised by Bisong Foundation”. The team’s captain echoed this by stating that “the day was a great success and we will be attending the next event and obviously to win again”.

The Lord mayor of Cambridge Cllr Mark Ashton and his wife attended and was guest of honour at the football matches. He commended Bisong Foundation for promoting sports and fitness and promised to attend again even if he is no longer the Mayor of Cambridge. We also had the presence of African football hero Cyrille Manakay who Played against England in 1990 World Cup in Italy and legendary artists from Cameroon Epee et Koum to mobilise the community. The event was registered with the Cambridgeshirefa and officiated by Cambridgeshirefa officials.

Because some community members expressed interest in swimming practice, we organised 6 swimming sessions between May and August this year. Although all members who attended swimming sessions knew how to swim, they were made aware of the importance of water safety by the swimming pool coordinators. 15 people took part in different swimming sessions. Feedback from one of the members was very positive. According to her “coming out, socialising and swimming with others have indeed improved my mental health”, she said.

We have equally organised 7 tennis sessions as part of the project. 25 people took part in the different sessions playing as individuals or as in groups. We have not limited the sessions to adults only but have encouraged everyone who wants to play to join in, including children. Michael Bisong and Chika Ezegwu (experienced table tennis players) gave training lessons to people who were new to the sports. “It has really been a great fun to play and explore the different things members can do with just a racket, plastic balls and a table”, one of the participants said. Another feedback we received was from a 36 year old migrant from Nigeria “table tennis helps to improve one’s quality of life - it helps to strengthen the muscles and mobilises the joints. I have had great fun playing table tennis”.

Project part two Workshops on violence against women: On Saturday 26 February 2022, we organised first of the 3 workshops on violence against women at the Cambourne Community Hall. Leane March a domestic violence advocate facilitated the 3 hours long interactive workshop. She encouraged all the women to give their personal experiences about domestic violence and how they managed the crisis. She described the causes of domestic violence and how victims can seek help. Michael Bisong a Senior Social worker in safeguarding and project lead also speaking during the workshop said “statistics have proven that many women do not want to report domestic violence and continue to suffer in silence”. In this regard, the facilitator urged all victims to report any form of abuse so that they can get the necessary help to enable them to stay safe and healthy. Leane also looked at different forms of abuse and their impact on individuals. One of the participants Mrs Paget who works with school children said “dealing with domestic violence involving children has always been a challenge”. Leane described the three stages of domestic abuse involving children: Tension building, acute crisis phase and calm or honey moon phase. She added that without intervention, the frequency and severity of abuse involving children will increase over time and there may be changes to the cycle over a period of time. Again, she urged parents to look out for signs of abuse and report it as soon possible. At the end of the workshop, Leane stated that she was free to talk to anyone after the workshop if they wanted any further consultation with personally.

On Saturday 10th September 2022 we organised the second workshop facilitated by Moji Odewusi (Senior Safeguarding Lead) at Cambourne Community Hall. She delivered a powerful message on domestic violence during the workshop. She explained how victims of domestic violence could recognise patterns of abuse and how they could seek help. Her message was quite clear on recognising the signs of abusive relationship and knowing how to leave a dangerous situation. Participants were advised that it might not be easy to identify domestic violence at first as abusive relationships always involve an imbalance of power and control and some relationships can be abusive from the outset which gets worse over time. She explained that women are most likely to experience multiple forms of abuse and described the different types domestic abuse as; intimate partner violence, sexual assault, stalking, physical, coercion, emotional/psychological, and neglect. She also talked about violence against women and girls which includes family violence such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and honour crimes that are often perpetrated primarily by family members with multiple perpetrators. At the end of the workshop, she provided her contact details and urged victims to contact her for further details or confidential matters.

The third workshop was facilitated by Flavia Sentamu (Senior safeguarding Lead) on Saturday 24th September 2022 at the Cambourne Community Hall. During this workshop, Flavia told participants that the only way to break the circle of domestic violence is to take action and to start by telling someone about the abuse, a loved one, a healthcare provider, a close contact or even calling the national domestic violence hotline. She told participants that she recognises it is hard to talk about the abuse at first, and reminded that victims are not alone, there are experts who are willing to help. She pointed out that victims will feel relieve and receive much needed support if appropriate action has been taken. At the end of the workshop, before distributing the safety plan she had created, she urged everyone experiencing domestic abuse to consider taking action by using the safety plan. She added that leaving an abuser is not easy and can be dangerous. Safety plan: • Call a women’s shelter or domestic violence hotline for advice. Make the call at a safe time when the abuser is not around or from a safe location. • Pack an emergency bag that includes items needed and leave the bag in a safe place. • Keep important personal papers, money and prescription medications handy to take along on short notice. • Know exactly where to go to and how to get there. • Use phones and home computers cautiously. • Turn off GPS devices, change email password frequently and clear viewing history. • Call 999 in an emergency situation. Safety plan was distributed to all participants at the end of the workshop.

Benefits of the project: Delivering this project has enabled people to stay fit and healthy after the lockdowns and ensured their general wellbeing have been maintained. The scientific evidence on the positive effects of sports and physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle is overwhelming. The positive, direct effects of engaging in regular physical activity are particularly apparent in the prevention of several chronic diseases. We are grateful to National Lottery community fund for providing this grant that has helped us to improve the physical health of many people across Cambridge.

We have also been able to pass on powerful messages on domestic violence to raise awareness in a bid of keeping victims safe. We believe all survivors of domestic abuse should be able to get the support they need to feel safe and move on from the impact of the abuse. The workshops were not only for those who have experienced domestic abuse but for everyone.
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