Highlighting the role of sport in youth development, in India and beyond
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sportanddev caught up with Pro Sport Development’s Suheil Tandon to find out about an International Day of Sport for Development 2015 event that took place in Odisha, northeast India.

To celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Pro Sport Development (PSD) organised volleyball matches involving a wide-array of students from one of the schools in rural Odisha (India) that they work with. The girls’ volleyball team played matches with and against the junior boys’ team, whereas the senior boys played against PSD's staff team. While these matches were played on the main court, lots of small-sided volleyball games involving both boys and girls were played around it, which were joined in by PSD staff as well as the school’s teachers.

sportanddev: Why did Pro Sport Development decide to commemorate the IDSDP?

Suheil: Working with youth in remote regions of Odisha, India, PSD believes it was important to celebrate IDSDP with them to highlight the significance being placed on sport in the context of social and youth development not just throughout India, but worldwide. Moreover, IDSDP was used to celebrate all the progress these youth have made in their lives through the power of sport.

sportanddev: What were the successes and challenges of organising an event?

Suheil: The success of organising the IDSDP was the response we got from the youth - lots of enthusiasm, positive energy and camaraderie were on display. Moreover, it helped highlight the progress the girls have made through regular participation in sport. The challenge of the IDSDP was to help the youth understand the benefits of sport beyond the playing fields, to help spread the message. They were just happy to go out there and enjoy their sport!

sportanddev: What can be done to improve in 2016?

Suheil: Instead of just concentrating on the schools we work in, we would like to spread the message of IDSDP in other schools and communities, by organising an event that runs through the entire week before culminating on 6 April. We feel the importance of sport, especially in the youth development context, needs to be heard by students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders throughout the region of Odisha.

sportanddev: What does 6 April mean to you?

Suheil: This day signifies the importance of sport in the lives of the young tribal children we work with in rural Odisha, which has provided not just the pleasure of participating in sporting activity, but also aided in their development as youngsters by providing confidence and leadership skills, teaching the importance of teamwork and camaraderie as well as promoting gender equality on and off the sports field. Sport has provided these learning opportunities, which we hope they will carry on to other spheres of their lives to have a positive impact.