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Stepping up to the plate

Two hands being washed under running water
Copyrights: ChildFund

Stepping up to the plate

How is the sport and development community responding to the coronavirus pandemic?

As more and more countries report increasing cases of COVID-19, and social distancing and isolation measures become more stringent, the sport and development community is showing that it can rise to the challenge.

COVID-19: What do I need to know?

First of all, make sure that you remain informed about what the COVID-19 pandemic means for you, your workplace and your community.

Be sure to refer to official and evidence-based sources of information, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), your local health authority and reputable research institutes. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated tips on how to make sure you are informed and able to protect yourself and those around you.

FIFA has also partnered with WHO in a video sharing key health messages.

WHO has launched a WhatsApp service to distribute daily alerts: follow this link and type ‘Hi’ to get started.

Photo: London Sport

So what role can the sport and development community play at this time?

Despite the challenges and uncertainty, the community has stepped up to the plate and is showing the potential of sport to promote global solidarity.

As ChildFund Pass It Back stated:

The trusted networks that sport builds are community resources that can be drawn upon during challenging times.

They report that Lao Rugby Federation coaches have been ensuring that schools have access to information about COVID19 prevention.

Margaret Sheehan, CEO of ChildFund Australia, sent the following message to supporters: Infectious diseases like COVID-19 can have a detrimental and long-term impact on children in the communities where ChildFund works.

“In all communities, ChildFund is ramping up its programmes in disease prevention and containment. This includes raising awareness of the importance of hand-washing, checking that water and sanitation facilities in local communities are safe and disease-free, and ensuring that health messages about COVID-19 are being amplified in school settings.”

OSCAR Foundation, an organisation using football to instil the value of education in low-income youth communities in India, has stated: “We put up a few banners with important tips to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We are encouraging people to wash their hands more regularly, eat healthily and cover their mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing."

We feel it is very important to address these issues in low income communities, as panic sets in very easily.

Photo: OSCAR Foundation

For other organisations, social distancing has been a key response. London Sport has stated that most of its staff are now working remotely and issued the statement: “We have taken the difficult decision to postpone all London Sport events for the time being while we consider the most appropriate ways to bring people in the sector together.”

School of Hard Knocks uses sport to deliver life education to support unemployed adults and school children at risk of disengagement from their education in the UK. They have announced that while they will not be delivering rugby or contact games, they will continue to deliver mentoring sessions via online communications platforms and will be developing alternative methods to keep their young people safe and active: “Our top priority is the welfare of our staff and participants.”

Staying connected

Humans are social beings, and staying connected during this time will be crucial to maintain health and well-being.

Sport and development researcher Emma Sherry is one of many working from home these days but is using digital channels such as Zoom and Twitter to keep in touch: “Maintaining relationships and social connections is very important for academics,” she said.

Photo: Emma Sherry/Twitter

Beyond Sport will be launching their Global Awards, highlighting that:

Never has there been a better time to celebrate what you as a community have achieved. With that, we will also be launching a series of initiatives to help support and connect people in this time.

Little Kickers use football to promote education in Ecuador, and have launched a series of videos showing how kids can stay active and have fun while at home.

Activity Alliance highlight the particular challenges posed to vulnerable community members: “We are especially mindful that there will be even more disabled people and people with long-term health conditions who feel isolated and less active. We will regularly post tips on ways to stay active at home or in the open air.”

By showing a united response, sport can be a source of inspiration, foster cooperation and help face down the world’s biggest challenges.   

Visit the World Health Organization website or your local health authority website for more information.

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Monday, March 23, 2020 - 18:02