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International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2015: Time to take sport seriously

Sport holds a serious and prominent place in the international arena – the most watched events on TV, the most tweeted and highest trending topics on social media all relate to sport, but what does sport have to offer everywhere in the world that is not currently seen by millions?

On community pitches and fields around the globe are young people playing sport that provides a platform to learn, grow and develop skills that stay with them for life. International Inspiration (IN) works in partnership with community organisations to harness the power of sport to spearhead social change and addresses important issues such as gender inequality and exclusion. Sport inspires young people to include and influence their peers and community to ensure long-term impact and sustainability of sport for development programmes. By using sport to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, sport is a key development tool that can be used to achieve agendas set by the United Nations. It is now time for sport to be taken seriously to address the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build upon the impact sport and development programmes have so far had. 

The opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills flourishes through IN’s programmes and reaches IN’s goal of creating prosperous communities through sport. In Ghana, the manufacture of Alive and Kicking’s African footballs ensures the employment of marginalised people and supports young sport leaders with the necessary equipment they need in order to deliver community activities. In Jamaica, the Access and Empowerment programme sees young sport leaders join accredited training and work programmes to earn an income through enterprise and employment. In Tanzania, IN’s partnership with the Anita White Foundation supports female community leaders with monthly stipends to undergo sports training, leadership and mentoring opportunities. Inspiring young people to take up careers within sport is one of three aims of the SPLASH programme in India, which teaches children and young people swim survival skills to address the alarmingly high drowning rates in Asia. The swimming and lifeguarding sector continues to grow as awareness around the importance of swimming increases. The programme aims to ensure that children have basic swimming skills and a passion for the sport so that future generations see the vital need to swim and take enjoyment from sport. These opportunities are all provided through local sports structures which through the help of local partners, are impacting the lives of individuals and communities worldwide.

To fulfill IN’s visions of equitable societies through sport young sport leaders in Ethiopia and Bangladesh are trained to ensure that simple adaptation aids and techniques allow for people with disabilities to join in sporting activities. These inclusive activities dispel stereotypes and misconceptions around disability, giving people with disabilities a greater voice and presence in the community.

Young women and girls are also using sport to get their voices heard in Zambia as sport provides the opportunity to pursue education by taking on leadership roles and training to support training in skills off the pitch. The Go Sisters programme uses football to deliver training in health education and encourages peer mentorship to enable other girls to join in activities. Girls who adopt leadership roles are given the opportunity to access school scholarships to rejoin or pursue education.

In Mozambique, the Football for Development programme uses football to develop life skills and promote health messaging, gender equity and leadership and the power of team sport is being used to educate men in Zambia awareness of gender-based violence.

One of the most prominent figures in British sport and IN Chair, Lord Seb Coe, comments: “What a privilege it has been to support the work of International  Inspiration in its 10 year journey and witness the incredible impact sport can have on positive social change.  Today, International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, is an important day all of us involved in this critical and impactful work. Very proud of our collective achievements."

This is not just sport in another country, it is sport at its finest, using its values – determination, excellence and teamwork - to lead and deliver programmes that drive change. Celebrate International Day of Sport for Development and Peace by seeing sport differently and support International Inspiration.