Last week, five expert panelists from five different countries dedicated their time and knowledge to answer questions related to youth and sport, collected over two days through an online platform Crowdhall. Forum organized as part of the global Youth Will campaign focused on the role of sport in development and peacebuilding. Diverse questions provided for interesting discussions among panelists and the audience. The following are the key takeaway points:
- What to emphasize when speaking about sport for development
The bottom line is emphasizing sport as a way to empower young people to engage with development. When speaking to young people, we should emphasize the role of sport being a method to release stress and have fun while learning new skills and advancing personal growth. We should always distinguish between elite sport and sport for development initiatives, making it clear that SDP projects are not set to scout for new athletic talent, nor raise future sporting heroes.
- Inclusion in sport
Sport has the power to connect people in profound ways. Just as it brings people together to play it can also bring them together to kick off conversations, dialogue and awareness-raising. Everyone has the same right to sport, thus inclusion of all regardless of their abilities or gender is a must. It is proven that inclusive programmes are beneficial for all participants as they can help and learn from each other. It promotes mutual understanding, bonds of friendship and lessons of perseverance.
- Transferable skills youth can learn trough sport
Sport provides invaluable lessons that can apply outside the world of sport. Practice involves exercising body and mind alike. The two are undoubtedly interconnected and that makes sport a unique tool for personal development. In the hectic and highly demanding times of the 21st century, sport acts as an escape from daily hardships, a personal outlet and coping mechanism. Learning how to manage stress, be flexible and adaptable to unforeseen circumstances through play in fun and safe environment is priceless. Today’s labor market requires us to possess skills such as concentration, problem solving, creativity, time-management, networking, overcoming limits and entrepreneurship which are hard to acquire through traditional teaching methods but come almost naturally from practicing sports. On top of that, personal qualities of being respectful and a good team player are accentuated in sport and are highly regarded by employers as well.
- Importance of space for sport activities
Space is a huge issue when it comes to sport. We have got so used to building specialized courts, pitches and gyms that we almost took the sport and play out of streets. There is no dispute about benefits of having dedicated space with appropriate facilities for practice; however, we should not neglect the benefits of using public spaces for sport as well. Being able to watch someone’s talent and capabilities, understand and accept how space can be used for multiple purposes and enable marginalized groups to have a space for self-expression and self-improvement must be recognized. The issue, however, can also be about lack of space all together such as is often the case in informal settlements. While it is certainly better to have a proper space, a court or a pitch, it is not essential to play. Sport is an adaptable activity that can be altered around the needs and availability. Lack of space should not stop us from exploring alternatives and promoting sport.
- Power of global sports organizations and promotion of youth sports
International organizations such as FIFA, should collaborate with community organizations and use their name and resources for greater good. However, we must remain cautious with these global power machines that are often driven by profits and ensure that the promotion of sport goes beyond recruitment and training of future elite athletes and corporate gains. It should emphasize inclusion of all youth regardless of talent or gender and be promoted across all borders.
Dana Podmolikova, UN-HABITAT (Czech Republic)
Zachary Turk, Action/2015 (USA)
Nevena Vukasinovic, ENGSO Youth (Serbia)
Hassan Abdikadir, UN-HABITAT (Kenya)
Joanna Burigo, Guerreiras Project/ Gender Hub (Brazil)