The mixture for a better world through sports
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colombian street soccer
Teaching values like inclusion, empathy, sportsmanship, humility, and integrity will not only create an excellent athlete but an excellent person.

Sports have always been an influential tool for the development and peace of many countries. For example,  Mandela using the Rugby World Cup in South Africa to fight racism, the United States Women’s Soccer Team and their pursue of equality, or the creation of sports camps in Colombia for people that used to be part of the conflict to help them become part of society. I could go on and on, sport has that advantage, if used in the correct way it can turn the world into a better place. We could use sports to educate people in a better way, to create safe spaces for oppressed communities and to push for development and peace.

Education is essential in society; it is the way we become citizens of the world. Education within sports helps us understand different situations that we live normally and are reflected on a pitch, court, or wherever we play a sport. With this understanding we not only become citizens of the world, we become citizens that want a better world and fight for it. Education is not only going to a school and getting the best grades, it starts from home and that is essential on how people are formed and how they see the world. Enhancing values at home with sports is an easier way to learn and educate children. Teaching values like inclusion, empathy, sportsmanship, humility, and integrity will not only create an excellent athlete but an excellent person. Schools also have a challenge since nowadays sports are taught without a purpose, just to keep kids busy. If physical education is taught with the purpose to form people, then skills like the ones developed at home can be reinforced in a more natural way by helping a person become who they want to be and achieve their best version. In the end, in countries like Colombia where there are so many social problems, a ball and these values can save a kid from gangs, violence, or wrong decisions.

Not only education is needed in this pursuit of making sports a better tool for development and peace. Sports should be a safe space for oppressed communities. A stadium or a sports facility needs to be a place where people from different cultures, races, sexual orientations, genders, and backgrounds meet to play, see their favorite team/athlete, or have a good time. If these become safe spaces for everyone the result is inclusion, and with the support of education there will be no need for violence or discrimination which will lead to sports having a better role in society. It can start with initiatives in streets, like for example creating some street matches where everyone can play no matter their background and the continuous guidance of teams to their fans for respect in an interactive way, not only putting in the big screen: “Say no to racism”. At the same time, it can also be reflected with sports and sports for development organizations having more diversity in their staff and people that make decisions.

While “making sports a safe place and space” should be done with full commitment, it is important that people pressure national governments and sports governing bodies to invest and be held accountable for the decisions that are made.  Historically, we have always seen the same people in power doing the same things. If these institutions are held accountable there will be better governance in sports and the money will be invested in better ways in the people  that make sports what it is and can become, and those places/communities that can use sports to develop. Many of these institutions can change the world and they know they have the power to do it, they just have people managing them that do not care.

It would be amazing to have women, LGBTQ+, physically disabled, or any other person different than the usual as decision makers of a sports governing body. At the same time, what about schools educating citizens that fight for a better world and want to use what sports have taught them for good.

In conclusion, a mixture of education, inclusion and pressure for integrity are a proposed mix to improve the role of sports in contributing to development and peace.

Santiago Gallo is a Colombian that works in women’s football in the US. He also works in sustainability in sports and believes that sports are a powerful tool to make a better world.


United States
North America
Latin America and the Caribbean
All sports
Sustainable Development Goals
4 – Quality education
Target Group

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