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Sports and Recreational Facilities for Our Youth
Children playing street football in Egypt in this 2017 photo. (Mohamed Hozyen Ahmed/Wikimedia Commons)

Sports and Recreational Facilities for Our Youth

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, November 3

Whenever I have the opportunity to visit one of Cairo’s private sport clubs, open to wealthy members who can pay exorbitant dues, I remember those who are deprived of a membership in these elitist institutions, especially children who only have the street as a place to exercise, socialize, or spend leisure time. The fee to join one of these clubs currently hovers around a million Egyptian pounds (over $60,000). This goes without mentioning the long waitlists to join these clubs, which have become so popular that they have run out of spots to accommodate new members, especially younger folks. Meanwhile, in recent years, we began noticing a large number of street children in our cities. And we all know that there is a direct link between spending time on the streets, crime and violence. Therefore, we must urgently act. We must establish places where young people can exert their energy and build up a healthy body – and a healthy mind. There’s no doubt that President Sissi’s focus on promoting sports in our country has helped address this issue. But more can be done. In the past, Egypt was home to youth associations, some of which still exist, that attracted young people and provided them with pastime activity. The goal was to help them learn, grow and meet new people, while preventing them from turning to crime or immoral behavior. It would be wise to grow that program and provide more after-school activities for our youth. Not just during the summer and holidays, but throughout the entire school year. Unfortunately, schools have become a place to take exams and tests; not a place to learn new skills and develop one’s intellectual capabilities. Furthermore, even our best schools lack playgrounds, sports facilities or places where students can exert physical energy in between classes. Each one of our neighborhoods should have a community center providing youth with recreational after-school activities. It’s up to us to provide our youth with opportunities to learn and grow. – Mostafa Elfeki (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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