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Connecting sport to religious tolerance

Author: Gabriel Tabona
Copyrights: Gabriel Tabona

Connecting sport to religious tolerance

What is the role of the sport for development and peace sector in promoting religious diversity?

Nowadays, it is highly likely to come across news of religious motivated clashes. A recent case in point is the attack on Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

As it’s making strides to find its footing as a mainstream development model in various parts of the world, the sport and development field can provide avenues of tolerance between diverse religious groups going by the fact that their programme beneficiaries profess certain beliefs and values which define them.

When it comes to sport performance, sport for development and peace (SFD) actors can give insights to different teams in different religious settings which might easily discriminate upon an athlete wishing to practice his faith. For example, by training sports nutritionists on religious tolerance, the former is in a better position to advise coaches’ selections of an athlete going through a fasting period, hence better decision-making is effected according to desired sporting outcomes. A team chaplain in a club whose members are predominantly practicing Christianity can be able to advice the backroom staff preparing pre-season camps to take into account a Muslim athlete’s prayer schedule.

In education, SFD stakeholders have already made some inroads. In Kenya, Catholic-owned Don Bosco Vocational Training Centre has worked with Germany’s GIZ to organise training on violence prevention. A demonstration of the potential of sport in integrating all religious groups in accessing technical and vocational education and training (TVET), while Peres Centre for Peace provides a peer-review setting where Jewish, Israeli, Palestinians and Arab youth come together to discuss ideas which can help mitigate conflicts.

It’s rare to find where commerce and religion intersect.While  SFD programmes implementing social enterprises seek to empower  vulnerable groups in their target areas through credits, a proper project appraisal might just be the difference between relevance and failure of their efforts. For instance, some religious related banking products such as Tafakul /Islamic banking, offered by financial institutions like Kenya’s First Community Bank, comply with the Shariah Law, which prohibits paying of interest.

While it is understandable that many funders attach pre-conditions prohibiting the use of their resources to evangelise, actors in the sport and development sector can piggyback from the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya and position themselves as perfect “soft-skills providers” in creating conducive environments for diverse religious groups to co-exist.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 14:37