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International Day of Sport for Development and Peace: A call for action


International Day of Sport for Development and Peace: A call for action

The UN's recent announcement that there will be an international day for SDP is cause for celebration, but the sector must act to make sure it is meaningful.

The sport and development community has now had time to reflect on the United Nations’ announcement that 6 April will be the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. The decision marks a significant moment for the International Olympic Committee, the S&D sector and everyone else with an interest in promoting sport’s role in development and peace building.

It is the latest in a number of steps that have demonstrated increasing international recognition for sport’s role and accelerated the recent growth of the sector, especially over the last 10 years.

Magic Bus
One of the largest and most relevant regional actors in sport and development is Magic Bus. Since being founded in 1999, it has worked with over a million children and witnessed the sector’s influence grow dramatically. CEO Pratik Kumar explains what the news means to them:

"For the last 14 years, we have been using sports and activities to encourage children to go back to school, enable adolescent girls to resist early marriage, and encourage everyone to adopt simple habits to ward off serious illnesses. The approach has demonstrated broad benefits, helped change behaviour, enabled attitudinal shifts towards gender equity and tapped into the potential for people living in marginalised conditions to change their own situations, with minimal outside help.

"Demonstrating our impact has gone a long way into convincing the world at large that sport can actually deliver on serious, development-related goals that cut across the barriers of caste, class and religion and is truly inclusive. Thus for us, an International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is an important step towards mainstreaming the approach such that anyone working on problems common to countries around the world can benefit from it."

Seizing the opportunity
International observance days give the opportunity to celebrate and reflect on issues that matter to us. Most in sport and development will agree that the UN’s decision is welcome news. But 6 April will come around quickly and, while this is a great opportunity, we must also recognise there are risks. Some international days have been very successful in gaining momentum, but others pass by very quietly. While it would be ambitious to hope that 6 April will achieve the status of the most high-profile observance days – World AIDS Day and International Women’s Day spring to mind – we must make sure it is meaningful.

Sport is an effective catalyst for social change and 6 April gives us the chance to highlight this in a way that hasn’t been possible before. We should use the opportunity to emphasise the sector’s achievements, celebrate the diversity of the field and push for greater use of sport in development and peace building projects.

6 April can be used to generate discussion. The impact of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace will be greatest if we act together as a community – and involve not just those within S&D but the wider NGO sector, the public and other interested parties.

At sportanddev, we look forward to being part of that discussion and to highlighting many of the innovative events that this dynamic sector will surely produce.


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Paul Hunt


Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 09:00