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International Day of Sport for Development and Peace - 6th April

Sports for Development and Peace


Today marks the first ever International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). While sports have long been recognized as a tremendous tool for growth (especially here at S4S!), this is the first time the UN has declared a day to demonstrate how sports foster development and peace. The event has been supported worldwide, with various organizations, celebrities, nations and sporting leagues, including FIFA, championing the cause of sports for development and peace.

In UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s brief statement on IDSDP, he acknowledged several aspects of sports that serve as the foundation for our Sports for Sharing program, “We at the United Nations know that sport is a universal language, uniting groups and nations across divides. Sport empowers youth, promotes good health and deepens UN values such as equality, mutual respect and fair play. Sport helps us in spreading messages of peace, driving social change and meeting the Millennium Development Goals.”

These sentiments have been echoed by governments and NGOs (non-government organizations) alike, including the Australian based Sport Matters, which plans to lead celebrations in Sydney for the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Jackie Lauff, chief executive of Sport Matters, recently gave a radio interview discussing the origins of the the inaugural IDSDP, how sports affect communities and how this commemorative day will highlight some of the great work being done across the globe demonstrating the power of sport to improve the lives of others.

Peace and Sport has developed an online platform for the event which any person or organization can register, advocate and share their cause as it relates to promoting peace and development through sport. Their objective statement sums it up well, “To bring together and promote all the initiatives being led worldwide to celebrate sport for peace and development on 6 April.”

If you are interested in participating, following along or supporting the event, check out the SportandDev.org website, the IDSP and sportanddev Twitter handles, as well as the #IDSDP/#IDSDP2014 trends. Click here for a list of information, research, and organizations celebrating IDSDP. This event is a call to action to promote sports to build communities and peace, let’s get active!



Kobe Bryant and Bill Clinton Discuss Sports and Kids

Building a community through the language of sports and play is part of the foundation of Sports for Sharing. It is probably unsurprising then, that we celebrate any moment that the value of sports and community are championed on a public forum by some of the world’s most famous faces. Last month t the Clinton Health Matters Conference during an ESPN Town Hall hosted by Mike Greenberg, Kobe Bryant and Bill Clinton discussed sports and kids, and how sports affected their lives from childhood. Sports is considered a valuable tool for human development, and this dialogue was brought to a national audience.

Both Bill Clinton and Kobe Bryant elaborated on moments from their youth when sports played a major factor. For Clinton, one moment in particular runs strong the former United States President, “I still remember the only church league basketball game that I was the leading scorer. I was 16 years old and I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the basket I made to be the leading scorer. You may think that’s silly, like this guy’s been president and he’s thinking about a basketball game … it was one of those magical nights. I might as well have won the NBA championship.”

Meanwhile, Kobe recalled his childhood growing up in Italy, not knowing a word of Italian, and learning to communicate through sports and playing basketball. He deemed sports as “the universal language” that helped him grow as a person and living in another country. Another big part of his emphasis was the cultural movement away from competition, “There’s a lot of people out there who don’t believe in having healthy competition,” Bryant said. “I think we have to make it enjoyable and for kids to understand that there’s a certain spirit of competition that’s fun. It’s not nasty, it’s not aggressive, it’s just fun competition, and I think when you have that kids will go out and enjoy themselves. They’ll pick up their activity instead of just plopping down in front of the TV.”

The chat was intended in part to address the growing trend towards less physical activity and athletic participation. Most reliable surveys indicate less than 1 in 3 children between the ages of 6 to 17 play sports on a daily basis, at least in part due to the cultural shift away from traditional sandbox games play. We often hear of the increasingly competitive youth club teams for most major sports that then exclude children that are not as gifted or fail to make the cut to play the games they love. For Bryant, it is about getting back to playing sports because they are fun with your friends, “As a kid growing up, it was fun trash talking with your buddies and competing with your friends. That’s what made getting out and being active fun.” In other words, have fun playing sports with your friends, not just playing sports to go pro.

Kobe has indicated that championing sports for kids will be the focus of his work away from the court, both during and after the future Hall of Famer’s career comes to an end. Clinton’s foundation is partnered with the Aspen Institute’s Project Play which launched April 2013 with the slogan of “Reimagining youth sports in America.” For more information, follow this link to a comprehensive report on physical activity in America and helpful infographics. Watch the video below to see the full conversation between Kobe, BIll Clinton and ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg.

(Photo Source:)



More Than Medals



Written by Julia Quintavalle

There’s something about the Olympics that I find mesmerizing. Every other year, we gather around the television to cheer on athletes competing in sports that we have never played. We admire and envy Olympic athletes. We’re amazed by their natural abilities. We look at the medals that hang around their necks and wonder “how amazing would it be to stand there?” For most people it’s an unrealistic goal. However, even though most athletes young and old will never call themselves Olympians, there are definitely lessons that can be taken from Sochi and applied to everyone else in the world.

Every professional athlete has extraordinary natural skills and abilities, but natural ability alone is not what turns an athlete into an Olympian. Those skills – passion, dedication, determination and a strong work ethic – are skills that can be mastered by anyone, no matter what you plan on doing with your life.

I had the pleasure to attend a panel discussion last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in partnership with the International Youth Foundation. The panel was entitled “More than Medals: Youth, Sports, Prosperity, and Security” and focused on how sports can bring people together and prepare youth for a fulfilling future. It was an impressive panel that included representatives from PeacePlayers International, USAID, the British Council, and a 2-time Olympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer.

Using sports as a means for development is not new, but it is definitely becoming more popular than it has ever been. Sports are an integral part of every culture. From a young age kids look up to professional athletes as role models. Why not use something that is so engrained in our society to make the world a better place? When employed correctly, kids develop the very skills that are necessary to succeed outside of sports; the skills that every successful person, whether they are an athlete or not, has used to make their way to the top.

The participating speakers at the panel all had the same message: sports can unite people, teach them valuable skills, and create a great space for developing human capital. PeacePlayers International uses basketball as a way to bring together youth in areas of ethnic and religious conflict. Brendan Tuohey, the founder and Executive Director of the organization, noted that a good sports program will bring youth together because they want to compete, and when they are competing they don’t care if their teammate is from a different ethnic or religious background. However, competition is not the only important factor; with trained coaches and a good curriculum, PeacePlayers International takes conflict resolution and tolerance off of the court and applies it to the rest of the participants’ lives.

Similarly, the larger multilateral organizations like USAID and the British Council also recognize the importance of using sport as a tool for development. They note that sports programs are relevant, sustainable, and athletes have a great amount of soft power. The British Council runs programs in conjunction with the English Premier League, giving the star power necessary to draw in kids but also creating a space that can further enhance community development.

As the Winter Olympics continue into their second week, we once again realize the impact that international sporting events and athletes have on our society and our world. As much as we enjoy seeing our country’s team win gold medals, it is not the fact that they have won that impresses me, but everything an Olympian has had to do to get where they are, that is truly inspirational. They had to work so hard, give up so much, and never give up on their passion in order to be where they are today. It is not just the athletes, but their message. In a few weeks we will forget the names of many of the competitors that we have watched, but what an Olympian stands for, the message that they embody, is what will stick with us for the next two years, until we do it all again. That is the power of sports, and something in which anyone can find inspiration.