What do sports have to do with development and peace?
Around the world, sports are playing a larger role in development and peace as more and more people recognize its potential to mobilize communities towards the greater good.
Sports are a natural partner in development and peace. The principles necessary for development and peace, such as cooperation, sharing, respect and fair play are a natural part of sports. Sports bring individuals and communities together, highlighting what people have in common. Sports teach discipline, leadership, confidence, tolerance, cooperation, and respect.
Sports and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s)
Sports can help meet Millennium Development Goals. Sports can be used to communicate important messages and to teach people about development issues.
More about the Millennium Development Goals and Soccer.
Sports and Health
Sports have many health benefits—physical activity can reduce the risk of death from illnesses ranging from cancer to stress and depression. Physical activity is the easiest way to improve public health.
Sport and Education
Education is central to all MDGs. Sports can teach basic values and life skills important for the young people. Sports teach important values like honesty, fair play, respect, cooperation and confidence.
It is important that sports programmes include everyone, no matter what their gender, ethnicity or ability. Encouraging girls to play sports can help to break down stereotypes and can help achieve gender equality—as sports are traditionally male.
Sports and Sustainable Development
Development has to meet the needs of people living today without taking away from future generations.
Sports programmes should contribute to economic and social development and environmental sustainability.
Sports can help the economy by because they require goods and services—which create jobs and contribute to the local economy through manufacturing, direct employment, etc.
Sports help social development by teaching core values and life skills. Sports can bring people together, improve social cohesion, and take on social problems such as drug abuse, crime, gender equity, and child labor.
It also promotes volunteerism. Sports rely on volunteers, at international events and community-based activities. Volunteers learn new skills and feel good about themselves. Volunteerism improves community participation and social well-being.
Sports can also be a powerful tool for communicating environmental messages. Sports should be played in an environmentally sustainable manner—without harming the environment because destroying the environment reduces the health and well being of local populations.
Sports and Peace
The international language of sports is able to cross cultures and bridge social and ethnic divides. Because of this sports are a powerful tool to promote peace. Sports encourage integration and social tolerance, which are necessary for lasting peace. In times of instability, sports help people feel normal, and offer some structure in an unstructured environment.
Sports and Partnerships
Because sports have the power to bring people together it is a very powerful communication tool. Sports reach many different people in many unique ways; it sends the message of cooperation. Many organizations work with the world of sports to teach people about key issues locally and globally by:
- using athletes as spokespersons;
- dedicating sporting events to development issues;
- using sports to mobilize resources; and
- taking advantage of media coverage of sports events.
Soccer For Development