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What sport can achieve at Tokyo’s World Sports Values Summit for Peace

The World Sports Values Summit for Peace, in Tokyo last week brought together young athletes, leaders, and academics to share and explore the values that sport can advance. It was aimed at highlighting the positive roles that sport can play in furthering the cause of peace and human development and emphasized the key principles of Respect, Excellence, and Friendship drawn from the Olympic tradition – a perfect fit with IN.

Eminent athletes present included US skater, Michelle Kwan, former heavyweight champion of the world, Evander Holyfield, Japanese athletes and para-athletes from a range of disciplines, and our own Katherine Grainger. I was invited by Lord Colin Moynihan, former International Inspiration Foundation Trustee and a member of the organising committee, to speak about International Inspiration and to chair a discussion panel on the theme of Sport, human development and entrepreneurship. 

While sport for development is expanding, it’s still a small world, and so it was lovely to meet some truly impressive young people for the first time who have founded and led organisations that help develop disadvantaged communities through sport.  Mexican social entrepreneur, Dina Buchbinder, has introduced an innovative, action-oriented education model called Deport-es para Compartir which empowers teachers from a variety of school settings to foster social and environmental awareness while also teaching values, such as teamwork and fair play. Roberto Patino is the leader of the youth opposition movement in Venezuala and as a student started VotoJoven, to promote voter registration amongst youth, and uses sport to encourage continuous community participation. Both of them were on my panel, as was Adam Fine, a young Londoner who started the Futbol 5s in Cape Town, which has pulled off a rare double, doing great work to help strengthen the social fabric in the townships while being a self-sustaining social enterprise.

All three gave presentations about their work. Unlike most conferences, the presenters were well-behaved and stuck to their allotted 10 minutes, giving plenty of time for the broader discussion, which brought in Japanese athletes and Evander Holyfield. I wasn’t at all sure it would be possible to generate a meaningful conversation among such a disparate group (including a retired F1 driver, a golfer, a daredevil skier and an amputee mountainbiker), but as it turned out there was a great synergy between the development practitioners’ experience and missions and the values which had guided the athletes through their careers. Striving for better outcomes was a common theme and the flow moved seamlessly from the story of the 8 year old that campaigns fiercely to keep his Mexico City community clear of garbage to Evander Holyfield’s account of how the regular thrashings he was subjected to by his 8 older siblings making him hungry to learn to win.

I kicked off the session by speaking about International Inspiration. It gave me an opportunity to do one of my favourite things – highlighting the achievements and successes of inspiring young people from around the world. I chose to focus on the young women from rural India who trained as community sports coaches and generated such respect in their villages that they have been elected Panch (or mayor), and the school age young sports leaders in Trinidad & Tobago who are campaigning for opportunities for disabled children to play sport, and to challenge traditional perceptions of disability. I also described how the IN Pathways programme in Kenya, empowers young girl leaders to use football to teach their peers the importance of staying in education and crucial sexual and reproductive health messages. Pathways is nurturing young entrepreneurs by offering girls scholarships to return to school, and microfinance loans to start businesses. 

How fantastic it would be to introduce some of those girls to Dina in Mexico City. Perhaps one day…

Debbie Lye is Director of International Development at UK Sport and Director of International Inspiration. For more information on the work of UK Sport, visit and for information on the charity International Inspiration and the work that it does, visit

The TWSVS Cast