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Addressing inequalities through sport for development

Copyrights: Dream a Dream

Addressing inequalities through sport for development

On IDSDP 2021, Anirban Chakraborty shares his views on the power of sport and why it is important, now more than ever, to invest in sport for development.

Ayesha shares one single room with her parents and her 2 siblings. She wants to go outside and play, but she is not able to. There are hardly any playgrounds near her house. The school which she used to attend and where she could have played is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

There are many like Ayesha who are struggling because of lack of activity. Access to physical activity and sports has never been equal. On a busy playground, you will find only boys playing different sport. Why aren’t girls playing in a public field? Has anyone tried to create a common access for everyone to play? Do we have enough playgrounds and community access?

Sport for development is different from sport for excellence. Sport for excellence depends on improving the skills of people, whereas sport for development focuses on outcomes related to development objectives like equality, good health, education etc.

Sport for development should play an important role in both domestic and foreign policy.  Partnerships or collaborations between non-profits from different countries, using the concept of grassroots sport diplomacy, should be used to strengthen International participation between actors, where civil society and individuals are committed to carrying out sustainable and impacting effects of the initiatives (like exchanges between communities, transfer and sharing of good practices, events, network etc.). In the domestic front, it can help to address issues like access to healthcare, education, technology and playgrounds.

It’s been one year since COVID-19 disrupted everything across the world. COVID-19 has had a massive impact on young people playing different sports. While elite sport events have continued to generate revenue and entertain us (though not the same revenue as pre-COVID), the sport for development sector has suffered, due to the lack of activities during lockdown.

There is a need to better recognise sport within the relief, response and recovery efforts. When shutdowns were announced due to COVID-19, IOC President Thomas Bach said “I am calling on all the national governments to include sport in their economic recovery programmes, because sport can help the economic recovery. But it is also very important for the prevention of future health crises; that is why it is important that you are all playing sport.”

As Jacob Schouenborg (Secretary General-ISCA) mentions “What if inactivity was not a ‘slow’ problem that we had to tackle over a long period of time? What if it came overnight, like a virus, and was looked upon for all the negative consequences it has, such as killing 5 million people every year?”

At Dream a Dream, we introduced the “Learn at Home Activity Art Kit” and “Learn at Home Activity Sport Kit,” given to young people enrolled in our programme. The kits consisted of 10 self-learning activities and involved the facilitators introducing the activities to the students. The students utilized them at home and then reported back to respective facilitators once a week. This helped young people in not just being active, but also in learning essential life skills, since each activity was linked to a life skill.

The focus of the sector, in the future, should be on developing partnerships and cross sectoral collaborations. Partnerships can help solve world’s most serious problems related to the Sustainable Development Goals. I strongly believe in the importance of collective power to achieve social change using sports as an effective tool and through partnerships. In the 2030 Agenda, sport’s role for social progress is acknowledged as “an important enabler of sustainable development.”

As Nelson Mandela said “Sport has the power to change the world, It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

This is the right time to invest in sport for development to achieve specific developmental outcomes.

Anirban Chakraborty is the Fundraising Manager at Dream a Dream


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Anirban Chakraborty


Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 06:26

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