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UNESCO's Funshop on sport and SDGs

Author: ranaumairasif
Copyrights: ranaumairasif

UNESCO's Funshop on sport and SDGs

A participant report from the UNESCO Youth and Sport Funshop in Seoul in September that gathered over 60 young leaders in sport and development from the Asia-Pacific Region.

Recently, I had the opportunity to join UNESCO’s Funshop held in Seoul, South Korea with about 60 young sports leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region. The event was full of fun-based learning and cultural experience.

The Funshop was organised by UNESCO, with support from Lee Seung Yuop’s Baseball Foundation. The Funshop was facilitated by Irakli Khodeli from UNESCO, Kevina Maddick acting country director at Right to Play Thailand, Caroline Baxter Tresise from UNESCO and Jackie Lauff.

As we know, sport can contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and can boost social campaigns. The Funshop started with an opening ceremony that included Taekwondo and Korean cultural performances. It was addressed by the famous baseball player Lee Seung Yuop and other officials.

On 6 September, the Funshop began with an introductory session by the Youth and Sport Task Force with an overview of the United Nations Agenda 2030. It was followed by a session on “Designing a quality social impact programme” that highlighted the important features of a social sports project and the theory of change. It was connected to the next session on measuring impact of a social sports programmes, which has been a challenge for grassroots organisations as they don’t have enough resources to adopt professional frameworks and systems.

On 7 September, the Funshop had two main thematic sessions followed by a social media and outreach session by Caroline Baxter Tresise. Relevant to the present day, the four thematic sessions were prevention of violent extremism, climate change, gender equality and prevention of non-communicable diseases.

I took part in the thematic session on Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) and it was organised by Irakli from UNESCO and other energetic young sports leaders from the Asia-Pacific region. The first part of the session was based on PVE theory and UNESCO’s stance on the issue, and in the second session we all shared our personal experiences and how we use sports-based interventions in PVE.

I explained my research model that interlinks violent extremism causes with the benefits of sports-based interventions. The sociological (bonding, inclusion), psychological (mental health, trauma relief), economic (career opportunities, hope) and political (conflict resolution) elements of sport for development programmes help to prevent violent extremism risk factors such as isolation, mental illness, disappointment and conflict. I also talked about the sports for PVE programme of Kafka Welfare Organisation Pakistan that engages isolated vulnerable youth through team-based sports activities to prevent radicalisation.

The last day started with a thematic session on gender equality through sports. It explored the concepts of gender equality and barriers to female empowerment. We discussed how we can use sport to overcome such barriers. This was followed by a session on sport to prevent non-communicable diseases that discussed sport in relation to health priorities.

The final session highlighted the need for child safeguarding policies in sports activities. Before the end of the day, we visited a baseball facility and experienced Korean baseball with the legendary Lee Seung Yuop and other baseball professionals from Seoul National University. The Funshop concluded with a Hangang River cruise and the distribution of certificates - both were unforgettable memories.

The Funshop united diverse young leaders that are using sports for social development in their communities across the Asia-Pacific region. It led to diverse cultural experiences and learning through fun and experience-based activities and discussion. It also developed a vast network of sports practitioners that can work towards the SDGs together.

I am impressed with the stories and experiences of young sports leaders and I also learned a lot. There are many fruitful projects happening in the Asia-Pacific region, which could be adopted and replicated in other countries to address common social issues. Moreover, I learnt that without partnership achieving the SDGs wouldn’t be possible and the UNESCO Youth and Sport Task Force is a place where we can gather and partner together.

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Monday, December 2, 2019 - 15:27