Today is International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP 2015), the second annual UN observed day dedicated to the ever growing world of sport for development. As you read this (so long as you read it on 6 April) throughout the globe thousands of organisations that use sport as a tool to assist development initiatives will be celebrating the work they do and the achievements they’ve made.
If you don’t know what sport for development (and peace) is then I suggest you go back a read a few of my other blogs such as this one, and this one. Oh and this one too. Or visit sportanddev.org, my bible for all things sports and devy during the long hard months of dissertation writing.
To summarise, sport for development does what it says on the tin, it’s the use of sport as a mechanism to further a development issue. However, that is where the simplicity stops in grouping these initiatives, organisations and projects with each one varying in its development aim, how it operates and who it’s aimed at. The subject covers everything, from using cricket to teach young people in Kenya about HIVAIDS avoidance to utilising football to combat trafficking in Cambodia. You name the sport and the development issue in a country and there will probably be an organisation with that combination in operation somewhere.
So in honour of IDSDP 2015 here are a few of the favourites I discovered whilst ploughing through my dissertation:
Moving the Goalposts -Kilifi, Kenya (www.mtgk.org)
Girls in Kilifi, Kenya are some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people. Launched in 2001, Moving the Goalposts uses football as a unique point of entry to discuss issues such as reproductive health, economic empowerment and human rights with these women and provides them with the opportunity to become leaders and decision makers. Founder Sarah Forde’s book ‘Playing by Their Rules’ offers great insight into the organisation and some of it’s participants.
SALT Academy – Cambodia (saltacademy.net)
When it began in 2006 SALT set out to develop youth football with fifteen teams in Battambang, Northwest Cambodia. Fast forward nine years and the organisation reaches nearly 2,000 youths and 1,000 young adults across Battambang, Pailin and Poipet. On top of this SALT also recently set up the Mighty Girls programme which aims not only to boost the acceptance of women’s football in the country but to also prevent individual cases of human trafficking by supporting exceptional young female players in education, training, and personal development.
Craig Bellamy Foundation – Sierra Leona (craigbellamyfoundation.org)
The one where it all began. When I managed to convince the handsome new chap at work to take me for lunch and talk about what exactly he’d been up to in Sierra Leone prior to landing in my office it was the first time I had ever heard about the concept of sport as a tool for development. Turns out he’d spent six months in a country I couldn’t find on a map working for the Craig Bellamy Foundation, an organisation that uses football and education to enable underprivileged children to build a better life for themselves and their communities. And it was from that the love affair began (both with Sport for Dev and the chap, who now tells me tales of his travels over the dinner table in our house).
And a few I know less about but are still great:
- Cricket without Boundaries – Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda (www.cricketwithoutboundaries.com)
- Skateistan – Afghanistan, Cambodia, South Africa (skateistan.org)
- StreetGames – UK (www.streetgames.org)
Like all areas of development, sport for dev still has its issues, weaknesses and faults, it isn’t the golden bullet some like to think it is. However if the power of sport can help in any way possible towards making lives better for some of the poorest and most deprived people in the world then it’s definitely still worth celebrating.
Image from saltacademy.net/mighty-girls (thanks)