Embedding sport and play in international development
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Malika Kons from the Swiss Academy for Development reports on the Peace and Sport International Forum Youth Programme.

The sportanddev team sat down with Malika Kons, team lead projects and mandates at the Swiss Academy for Development (SAD), to discuss her experience of the Peace and Sport Forum held in Monaco in December 2019.

Why was SAD interested in attending the Peace and Sport Forum?

At SAD, we are always looking for opportunities to disseminate our findings, results and insights from our own projects involving sport and play. It’s also a great learning and networking opportunity: I met new people and heard about many new interesting initiatives, their objectives and the contexts they are working in. I had the chance to meet very interesting organisations who are using similar approaches in their work, which could lead to future collaboration.

Who were you most interested in connecting with?

We were particularly interested in the youth programme at this year’s forum, which was attended by a lot of young people. I gave a presentation explaining “what is sport for development?” Although approaches using sport and play are becoming more widespread, we think it can be beneficial for young people who are studying or are at the start of their careers to learn how sport can be used in development, and in which contexts.  

What do you want young people to know about sport and development?

In international development, there are still many misconceptions when it comes to using sport as a tool. If it’s the first time someone has heard about it, they might think that the use of sport is unstructured, that the claim that it can contribute something to the sustainable development goals is too far-fetched, or that there is a lack of evidence or critical thinking. So I really appreciated the opportunity to explain how we use sport to reach different objectives, and how we embed it into other approaches that have proven useful, to show that there is a very structured approach involved. 

What was the best part of the Peace and Sport Forum Youth Programme for you?

In general what I really liked about the youth programme was that it gave me an opportunity to generate discussion during my presentation. It was enriching to hear others’ viewpoints. In terms of the rest of the programme, I particularly appreciated the debate on “putting respect for human rights at the heart of sport”. It was inspiring to hear about how others are using sport to work with survivors of traumatising events such as gender-based violence and conflict, and how sport can support these women and men on their journey and increase their wellbeing. And to see how the people who run these projects are in there with their whole heart, giving all they have. 

How could events like this be improved?

It was very enriching to speak to organisations based in developing countries and to exchange views and experiences with them. However, it was clear that for organisations with a restricted budget, it is very difficult to attend such events. I think it would be a great idea if the forum could create a scholarship programme so that each year a few organisations are supported to attend the programme.

What is coming up for you this year in your work?

Last year we started to implement a project in Bangladesh that uses sport and play in a similar way as we have already used it in Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Colombia and Myanmar. We have developed a curriculum to promote entrepreneurship and employment skills, which targets disadvantaged young people, and supports them in becoming self-sufficient. It is based on interactive methods such as experience-based learning, and it also includes some sessions on selected life skills that are needed to succeed as a micro-entrepreneur or as an employee.

For more information, visit the Swiss Academy for Development website.