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Brunei
Sunday, February 5, 2023
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Brunei
Sunday, February 5, 2023
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    Fight against violent extremism

    Fadhil Yunus

    Sports play a critical role in promoting and advocating sustainable peace and development as well as protecting athletes and the wider community from acts or any forms associated with violent extremism.

    Through this initiative, the ASEAN-UN Regional Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport was held from December 8 to 9 for youth aged 18 to 35 years at the Conference Centre of the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand.

    The forum was organised by the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) with Education, Youth and Sports Division of ASEAN Secretariat as a collaboration that builds on the power of sport to prevent violent extremism (PVE) and foster sustainable peace and development in Southeast Asia.

    It brought together 27 other young national athletes, university athletes, community foundations, legal advisors, sports associations as well as National Olympic Council from the 10 ASEAN member states.

    The UN values the importance of youth in peacebuilding through sports and to improve capacity-building by integrating youth, peace and solidarity.

    It is commonplace that sports connect cultures and traditions from all over the world and this plays a significant role in the dissemination of positive values.

    Therefore, it is a powerful vector for the development of efforts aimed at promoting peace and preventing and countering violent extremism.

    Sports can provide a safe environment to teach young people through organised activities that lead to better resilience.

    With sports at heart, the diversity, creativity and innovation of the younger generation is particularly of great interest as key drivers in meaningful and impactful social movements and change.

    The forum raised awareness by integrating youth and provide recommendations on the PVE policies to national action plans (NAPs) particularly from the perspective of ASEAN youth.

    It also helped to establish dialogues between youth and become a focal point on the power of sport in preventing violent extremism by showcasing unique youth approaches including targetting vulnerable youth population and to encourage more investment and support towards youth-led sport-based PVE initiatives.

    The programme coordinator for the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) highlighted that young people from across the ASEAN member countries can help achieve peace and security objectives, using sport and its values to build resilience to prevent violent extremism.

    Brunei Darussalam was represented by netball development coach Nur Hafizah binti Haji Abdul Sidek and national karate athlete Farhah Syahirah binti Mohammad Shamrin.

    Nur Hafizah shared that her role as a coach is to safeguard the team spirit and maintain consistency in positive sports values which in turn will bring character in the long run.

    She believes that it will help young people to experience positive interactions, increase their sense of belonging, improve mental health and community ties.

    Though the country’s cultural and moral values are guided by Malay Islamic Monachy (MIB), she recognised that micro-aggressions in sports occur which can often be overlooked.

    She added that the PVE aligns with the objectives through the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and Ministry of Education in capacity-building sports programmes such as the Talented Athletes Sports Camp.

    Meanwhile, Farhah Syahirah aimed to share opinions and collects perspectives from other youths in the forum, as well as reaching young people as well as the society to encourage them to practise social peace.

    Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) Massimiliano Montanari said: “This youth forum provides a precious opportunity to align fresh ideas of youth leaders with the inspirational role of experienced policy and decision-makers on how to utilise sport to prevent violent extremism and to optimise the opportunities offered by major sporting events to integrate community at risks.”

    He concluded, “Youth leaders play a fundamental role in enhancing national and international policies, particularly when they are related to a topic which is essential for their life like sport.”

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