UNESCO/ 21 April, 2022/ Source/ https://en.unesco.org/
The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace was celebrated on 6 April 2022 under the theme: “Securing a Sustainable and Peaceful Future for All: The Contribution of Sport”, in an event upholding the importance of sports for inclusion and peace that was held at the University of Nairobi, co-organized by UNESCO Special Olympics, GIZ Sports For Development Project (GIZ S4D), Kenya Academy of Sports and the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO.
The football pitch of the University of Nairobi was the theatre of a live demonstration and use of sport as an enabler and catalyzer for development and peace. This event adhering to the letter of the promise of leaving no one behind as called upon by the UN Sustainable Development Goals gathered more than 80 youths; 50% of whom were females, and including about forty youth with intellectual disabilities.
During the brief opening session, the importance and values of sport were outlined by various speakers.
Let me win, but even if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
Mrs. Masila envisioned sport as a game changer for inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and called for creating more opportunities for unified sports that lead to inclusive, accessible and quality health, in particular for PWDs. She called on all stakeholders present to thinking more of inclusion in all programming, notably through sports.
We need to win this game of leaving no one behind, the game of inclusion through sport.
Prof. Hubert Gijzen further insisted on the importance of sport to keep us fit and to live healthy life. Making an analogy between sports and politics in the perspective of this electioneering year in Kenya, he insisted that politics and sports share a lot in common and that in both, participants need to adhere to the rules of the game. He went further to list some of the essential rules, such as “fairness, honesty, team spirit, discipline, inclusion, peace and leaving no one behind”, which he presented as important ingredients for peaceful and violence free elections.
He welcomed the partnership built with all stakeholders to organize this event and offered to further invest in the power of sports for social cohesion, peace, collaboration, achievement of SDGs and living no one behind, notably through two UNESCO flagship initiatives; Fit for Life and O3 Plus.
“On this International Day, our Organization celebrates the virtues and universal values of sport, and would like to recall how much sports practice, which allows us to have “a healthy mind in a healthy body”, also carries an ethic of living together and of peace– an ethic that we particularly need in these troubled times.” Said Prof. Hubert Gijzen in closing, using a quote from the Message of the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Audrey Azoulay, for the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2022.
If not for sport, I will not be here today (…) I am proud to be a Kenyan, and a Kenyan woman who struggled from one of the most conflict-prone communities (West Pokot County) to become one of the best in the world, the first woman to break the world record on long-distance run.
Ms. Tegla Loroupe, peace, women’s rights and education advocate and founder of the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation, addressing the audience as role model during the event, further advocated that sport should be used as a platform for peace, and called on youth not to allow themselves to be abused on this electioneering year. She finally made a plea to UNESCO to further support an advocacy for mandatory playgrounds in every school for effective practice of quality physical sports for all.
This event also included testimonies from youth who highlighted how their engagement in sport transformed their lives, from securing education scholarship to offering job opportunities, such as for Duncan Otieno and Susan Njoki.
Participants then gathered on a football field reorganized in a four stations sport for development exercise set up by GIZ S4D. In smaller groups of up to 20 persons, participants were involved in S4D Exercises on as various themes as i) hope for change and peaceful coexistence, ii) waste management and individual behavior, iii) mental health and social wellbeing; and iv) peaceful coexistence, and individual contribution to change and make a difference. All these exercises were performed through sports related activities and games and monitored by coaches, such as the Former Harambee Stars Captain, Victor Wanyama.
The event concluded with a handing over of footballs to participating organizations and institutions, balls specially made for the use of persons with disabilities and offered by GIZ S4D.
This year celebration of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace in Kenya outlined the use of sport to drive health, quality education outcomes as well as inclusion and peace, as advocated for under the UNESCO O3 Plus and Fit For Life flagship initiatives.