Sunday 6th April 2014 marked the commemoration of the first ever International Day of Sport for Development and Peace declared by the United Nations in August 2013. The Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) with partner organizations, EduSport, Sport in Action, Paralympic committee and NOWSPAR, commemorated the day through an exhibition and presentations by the organizations represented on how they work and which development aims they contribute to. Each organization gave its interpretation of the importance of sport in development and peace.
NOWSPAR representative, Mofu Kandondo, shared NOWSPAR’s work to mobilise the stakeholders to address gender inequality in and through sport. She stressed the importance of building leadership in girls and young women as they are as capable as men in contributing to development but have historically been limited by cultural and social challenges. She cited programs the organization is running to this end such as ‘Building Young Women’s Leadership through Sport’ and ‘Girl Power Through Sport’ which equip girls to be leaders and to influence their communities.
NOWSPAR information stand provided information about the role of sport in girls’ empowerment and the challenges that sport is used to address such as protection from violence, limited access to reproductive health information and access to physical activity and play for girls.
The young people at the commemoration also took part in a quiz on sport for development conducted by NOWSPAR staff and volunteers.
During his speech, Mr. Chileshe, the Director of OYDC, emphasized the importance of recognizing the many efforts and achievements of sport in its entirety to humanity and its power to bring development and peace. “Zambia has been recognized by the United nations as one of the leading countries using sport for social change through economic empowerment, interaction, attainment of self actualization, improved handling of success and failure and most importantly respect for self, others, rules of society and human rights,” he stated. This contributes to a peaceful society. Sport therefore transcends fun and games; it is a tool for development.
Keeping with the theme ‘Changing life through sports’ three athletes from OYDC gave testimonies of the positive impact that participating in sport had had on their lives. David, a judoka doing his tenth grade, told of how he had little support for his education and general upkeep until he joined OYDC. Aside from becoming a skilled judoka and travelling to different countries, he has received support for his education. “Guys, listen to your coach and you will go far” he advised fellow youth in sport.
“I used to spend my days fighting with other children, but now I have learnt new skills that have made me more productive.” Sikazwe, another athlete, was grateful for the life skills training he had received which he felt had helped him become more responsible and independent. Zambian Olympic Games Ambassador for Youths, Samantha Miyanda, urged her peers to uphold the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect and to also have fun.
Sport in Zambia has been crucial in including and recognizing the capabilities of often marginalized groups such as women and the disabled. Mr. Gondwe, Paralympic National coach expressed that the disabled used to be seen as fragile and dependent but could now exercise a degree of autonomy and interaction through playing sports such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and athletics among others.
Margaret a Judoka, emphasized the role sport had played in helping her become a more disciplined and focused person. The Judo Association is one of NOWSPAR’s partners and are working together on making Judo more open to girls and women.
Other activities of the day included entertainment by the OYDC dance troupe, tree planting, movement and fun games and free health checks for all in attendance. Individuals from the various organizations toured one another’s stands, interacting and exchanging experiences and information. A well rounded day it was, aptly representing the positive impact of sport.