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Brunei
Friday, February 3, 2023
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Brunei
Friday, February 3, 2023
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    Preventing violence through sports

    James Kon

    Netball development coach Nur Hafizah binti Haji Abdul Sidek and national karate athlete Farhah Syahirah binti Mohamad Shamrin represented Brunei Darussalam in the recent ASEAN-UN Regional Youth Forum on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport at the Conference Centre of the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand.

    Held from December 8 to 9 for youth aged 18 to 35, the forum aimed to raise awareness by integrating youth and provide recommendations on policies to prevent violent extremism to National Action Plans (NAPs) from their perspective.

    Nur Hafizah said it is important to keep the spirit of peace in sports.

    The 33-year-old also said her role as a coach is to safeguard the team spirit and maintain positive sports values, which in turn will build character in the long run.

    “In Brunei, violence is limited due to our strong sense of cultural and moral values through Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) philiosphy which blends the Malay language, culture and customs and Islamic values.

    “All these values are incorporated into our sports practice including being respectful and fair. However, there are still some microaggressions in sports which can be missed.”

    Nur Hafizah said the prevention of violent extremism also aligns with the objectives through the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and Ministry of Education in capacity-building sports programmes.

    Netball development coach Nur Hafizah binti Haji Abdul Sidek and national karate athlete Farhah Syahirah binti Mohamad Shamrin in a group photo with other representatives. PHOTO: YOUTH AND SPORTS DEPARTMENT

    Programmes like the Talented Athletes Sports Camp – aimed at young athletes from different sports backgrounds – strengthen national identity, leadership, perseverance, physical and mental strength, she said.

    The programmes also unite athletes and instil team work and respect through sport.

    “Schools are another platform to raise awareness on preventing violent extremism through sports at a young age that we can start to send this awareness through home as family is the first agent of socialisation,” Nur Hafizah said.

    Meanwhile, 19-year-old Farhah Syahirah added that violence is not the solution to any problem and she wanted to be involved in the activities that promote peace and end violence through sports. She aims to explore, share opinions and collect perspectives from other youth in the forum.

    She added that her aim is to reach young people as well as the society to encourage them to practice peace, and what really stood out to her is that violence can happen to anybody including kids or the elderly, male or female, or students without exception.

    The forum also served to establish dialogue between youth and become a regional focal point on the power of sport to prevent violent extremism by showcasing unique youth approaches including targetting vulnerable youth populations, and to encourage more investment and support towards youth-led sport-based prevention of violent extremism initiatives.

    Brunei’s representatives were joined by 27 other young national athletes, university students, community foundations, legal advisors, sports associations as well as National Olympic Councils from the 10 ASEAN member states.

    The forum was organised by United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) with Education Youth and Sports Division of ASEAN Secretariat as a collaboration that builds on the power of sports to promote prevention of violent extremism and fostering sustainable peace and development in Southeast Asia.

    The UN acknowledges the value of the youth in peacebuilding through sports and to improve capacity-building by integrating the youth, peace and security.

    The forum gave both Nur Hafizah and Farhah Syahirah the opportunity to spread awareness back to the country especially amongst the younger generation.

    They believe that social media is a powerful and accessible tool where youth can be easily exposed to examples of violence in sports such as bullying and these kinds of acts can become a bad influence to the younger generation.

    “But at the same time, it is also a platform where we can advocate peace in sports, where younger generations will see, post, share, watch and definitely learn something from it when using it wisely,” they said.

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