Were you glued to your screens like I was for the recent Winter Olympics? From figure skating to curling, I was among the millions captivated by these world-class athletes. But, did you know sports are also being used to help achieve the Global Goals?
Sports have the power to unite and inspire people around the world. We are shown feats of discipline, examples of teamwork, and the building of comradery both on and off the ice.
According to the Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group, sport is seen to have some amazing benefits:
- Individual development
- Health promotion and disease prevention
- Promotion of gender equality
- Social integration and the development of social capital
- Peacebuilding and conflict prevention/resolution
- Post-disaster/trauma relief and normalization of life
- Economic development
- Communication and social mobilization.
While working in Nerekhta, Russia, I saw firsthand how sports can be used a tool to educate and bridge cultures.. I worked as a general sports coach at the International Youth Center which teaches English through experiential learning. Having students speak in English while participating in sports assists with their ability to recall words and phrases quickly, and think organically in a foreign language.
Although sports can be used a positive attribute to development, they cannot solve all the world’s problems. Successful sports for development focus on assisting those most in need including refugees, child soldiers, victims of conflict and natural catastrophes, the impoverished, persons with disabilities, victims of racism, stigmatization, and discrimination, persons living with HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Sports also play an instrumental part in achieving the Global Goals. The use of sports for development can easily be tied into each of the sustainable development goals but there are three in which it can be especially impactful.
Through sport, local communities can learn the basics of a healthy lifestyle. This will assist in preventing diseases, particularly noncommunicable diseases. This also helps teach healthy methods and outlets for emotional distress.
Sports can also provide unique opportunities for gender empowerment. Women and girls are given the skills and knowledge to progress in society. Skills developed through sports allow women to feel in control, learn teamwork, and assist each other in new ways that translate into society, so practicing sports as gymnastics or skating could be great to achieve this, and getting equipment as freeline skates is not that difficult online now a days.
Sport can help societies better advocate for equality, diversity, and inclusion of all irrespective of age, sex, race, ethnicity, origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, economic or another status. It can be a successful tool for tackling inequality in hard-to-reach areas and for empowering individuals and communities.
Effective sports for development allows for a wide variety of people to be brought together to create change. This change can then transform lives and communities. Learn how to support sports for development below!
- Volunteer! Wherever you live, there is a chance to assist with sports and development. Whether that be coaching a local baseball team, or assisting a soccer team raise money for new jerseys, there is always something to be done!
- Learn more about the work of the UN Office on Sports and Development for Peace