Sport Aims for the Goals

Vol. LIII No. 2 2016

It is well known that physical activity improves personal health and well-being, but the benefits of sport to society are less apparent. This issue of the Chronicle explores the ways in which sport can enable individuals and communities to build a stronger, more harmonious world.

The UN Chronicle, under the theme “Sport Aims for the Goals”, considers sport’s role in improving lives and achieving the Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. This issue explores the ways in which sport can enable individuals and communities to build a stronger, more harmonious world.

After 15 years of progress towards the unprecedented Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world has turned its attention to the successor Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a period of transition to the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

No other event can empower individuals through social inclusion and societal opportunity like the Paralympic Games. Likewise, no other event can change the views of so many millions of people or stimulate Governments to create investment programmes or pass new legislation that will benefit many generations of individuals with impairments.

In our highly interconnected and interdependent world, progress in safeguarding the values of sport and in strengthening sport in society requires cooperation. In order for sport to serve humanity, sport must engage with society.

Girls are born leaders. What they lack, almost universally, is an equal opportunity to practice that leadership and to build the resilience required for decision-making in political, economic and public life. It is clear that sport has a role to play in turning the dials of history on gender in this context. Sport builds the vital resilience necessary to venture into the challenging context of political, public and economic office.

Football and other sports are helping to equip our youth with the knowledge to protect themselves and make informed choices about their health, but we need to go further. The world urgently needs to readjust its thinking on adolescent health and well-being. Young people no longer want to be passive beneficiaries they are becoming change-makers in their own right. They can serve as powerful partners for policymakers in building effective responses to the HIV epidemic that are evidence-based and proven to work.

The Afghan women who ride today are pedaling a revolution. It may take decades before they normalize cycling for all girls, but with every pedal stroke they are standing up for their rights and inspiring others to do the same.

The growing and increasingly institutionalized field of Sport for Development and Peace suggests significant opportunities for the world of sport to make positive contributions to overcoming the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our time.

Youth participation in sport for development is gaining popularity and momentum because of its value in promoting life skills and the essentials of global citizenship.There is increasing recognition of the efficacy of humanitarian programmes that employ sport as a tool for intervention and change in geopolitically and culturally diverse contexts.

Along with the relevant government agencies, international and non-governmental organizations, media and other actors, the public awareness-raising campaign conducted with the participation of Georgian rugby players has made a significant contribution to changing attitudes.

Had I not connected my run to a fundraising goal and received such overwhelming support, I would not have run 500 or so miles in the 20 weeks leading up to the Marathon, or been able to finish the Marathon itself. Committing to a goal that affects the lives of others was key to pushing myself to find the time and energy to run 25–30 miles a week.

The core mission of The Jack Brewer Foundation (JBF Worldwide) is to provide relief to communities around the world suffering from extreme poverty and hunger, using sport as its catalyst. It is important to understand that nutrition and wellness are the basis for sport, incorporated in ways to instil healthy lifestyles, but also to rally together communities in support of a common denominator.

I believe that sport can transform the life of every child. Most will probably not pursue Olympic medals, but they will learn how to dream, pursue their goals and contribute to their families, communities, countries and the world.

Football is the most egalitarian sport. It recognizes no frontiers, classes or backgrounds. FC Barcelona is aware of the hope that football generates in thousands of children and how its own players have become role models. Our objective is not just to win trophies but also to influence and actively participate in structural and transformative changes, and to help people prepare for what really matters in life.