Speakers say Sport for All is an investment, not a cost
“Wherever I go in the world, I can tell you that education is the most important thing for all children,” Wilfried Lemke, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, told delegates during Thursday’s plenary session in Lima.
“Sport is part of education,” added the former football manager from Germany, citing Wednesday’s IOC grant winners in Brazil, South Africa and Peru as examples of Sport for All done right.
Lemke was one of a hundred or so participants in Thursday morning’s four site visits in and around the host district of Miraflores. He chose the Academia Deportiva Cantolao, where a Right to Play methodology mixes a values-based curriculum with traditional football training.
“You can bring these positive feelings to children when they are very young. They will love their sports. Do it as soon as possible. And, of course, you have to follow that at school. Why I do speak about school in such a way?” Lemke asked delegates during his afternoon address.
“I know that many many countries around the world don’t have physical education at school. For Europeans, that is normally not understandable because we fight for more physical education lessons at school, but wherever I go, I see a lack of physical education for our children, and we need this.”
Legacy of the Olympics
Such insistence upon school sport was soon echoed by Debbie Lye, Program Director of International Inspiration, endorsed by both the UN and IOC for its role in enriching the lives of more than 12 million young people in 20 countries as a lasting legacy of London 2012.
With the Olympics and Paralympics over, LOCOG chair Sebastian Coe now runs International Inspiration, the charity that continues the work started in the seven years leading up to the Games.
In Trinidad & Tobago, new Paralympic School Days ensure awareness for physically disabled sport.
Likewise, young girls from government schools in Bangladesh are training as sports leaders to organize festivals for children with disabilities.
And through a partnership with the British Council, special schools in the U.K. are linking with special schools in Nigeria to develop handball for the intellectually disabled.
“The true duty of the IOC,” said Maglione, also honorary president of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport, is to leverage activity as an education tool.
“Sport for All is not a cost,” he closed. “It’s an investment.”
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]