Children kick a football around a refugee camp. Girls dance in a makeshift studio put together after a tsunami. Men and women from areas of conflict share information about how to stay safe and healthy through physical activity. For all these people, sport provides the opportunity for people of all ages, nationalities, religions, and abilities to be more fully alive and healthy. Sport brings with it the power to inform, transform, and empower.
How can we bring increased global awareness to the power of sport and the role of sport for development and peace? How can we engage the world to see and understand sport for its contributions in ways other than entertainment and escape? How can we inspire “ah-ha” moments so people realize they can take sport seriously for its value toward making the world a better place? Can the new United Nations International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6 have this effect?
In 2007 the authors along with colleague Whitney Brown, wrote a concept paper entitled, “International Day of Sport,” suggesting the initiation of an International Day that would “serve as a vehicle to promote health, education, development and peace for all.” Since writing that concept paper, the authors have collaborated with colleagues internationally and contributed to discussions and dialogue regarding the establishment of an International Day. We were very pleased to see the official establishment of the International Day by the United Nations in 2013, with the first day scheduled for April 6, 2014.
Establishing an annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace presents a significant opportunity to not only celebrate the power of sport, but also the chance to evaluate and measure the progress and outcomes from the sector and the movement to advance sport for social change. Further, this annual occasion is a chance to bring attention to the power of sport and engage more people to take action, particularly the next generation of leaders in schools and universities around the world.
A recognized International Day each year is an opportunity to promote messages and themes that stakeholders around the world can rally around. These messages can inspire various projects, activities and actions through schools and communities. The sport for development and peace sector is multi-faceted, so it is possible to disseminate a variety of empowering messages and themes to motivate and inspire youth and adults toward local and global action and momentum.
We can imagine that the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace will serve as a catalyst to further advance global awareness and understanding of the power of sport. The International Day will become an annual benchmark for progress, and a platform to examine the level to which sport is taken seriously in societies around the world. The International Day will be an occasion to advance this conversation, to bring together those who see sport as entertainment and escape to an awareness and understanding of sport for development and peace.
We can envision that the International Day will serve to unite and empower the world of sport to integrate, value, and embrace the power of sport. The International Day will serve as a vehicle to increase visibility and viability of sport for development and peace each and every day of the year.
As the first International Day of Sport for Development and Peace approaches, we are honored to serve as editors for this collection of articles and statements about the upcoming International Day. We commend the people and organizations who have contributed to this publication and thank them for their continued good work. We truly look forward to collaborating with colleagues around the world in celebrating and calling attention to the power of sport.
ICSSPE Special News International Day of Sport for Development and Peace