Co-operation, Knowledge and Trust Needed

10/11/2011 08:00


Following ICSSPE`s Board meetings at Wingate Institute, Israel, the international conference Sport as a Mediator between Cultures was held from 15-17 September, 2011.


Hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Sport, Israel, and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Germany, with the support of ICSSPE and other organising partners, this event offered a wide range of expert panels, workshops and poster sessions. Topics included the capacity of sport programmes in intercultural co-operation; sport`s impact on adolescents` psycho-social development; training of physical education and sports staff; the role of physical education in school for equity; and inclusion and integration.


There was consensus that sport may contribute to issues including social and cultural interaction; reconciliation and reconstruction; building trust and co-operation; gender empowerment; inclusion; skills development and capacity building. Elizabeth Longworth, Deputy Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO, puts this clearly as she said, that sport speaks an international language and "provides us with a platform which is shaped by the intrinsic values of fair play, non discrimination, respect for others and integrity".


In line with this consensus, it was agreed that a lot of work still needs to be done in the academic, practical and especially political fields to establish knowledge and acceptance of sport as a means for development and peace. According to Margaret Talbot, physical learning is, for example, mainly accepted as effective in the early years of life, but rarely mentioned for older children, young people and adults. But, the fact that small children do not know boundaries or have prejudices shows that social, religious or division between gender and races are not natural and that projects especially for youth, adults and the elderly are very important.


According to discussions held during the conference, the basis for good and sustainable use of sport as a means for development and peace include:


  • Frequent and sustainable networking;
  • Sharing of knowledge;
  • Genuine partnerships and collaborative working between different groups, movements, scientific disciplines, etc.;
  • Involvement of local (affected) people;
  • Sustained effort and investment;
  • Review of work and willingness to learn and improve;
  • Grounded knowledge of factors related to projects, cultures, etc.;
  • Trust.


Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, acknowledged that “organising conferences like this one, which gathered respected experts and researchers from more than 30 countries, is crucial in order to provide a sound, solid layer of authoritative knowledge to our relatively young field of work.”


ICSSPE President Margaret Talbot formally closed the conference programme with her final report, linking the various discussions and emphasising the importance of the intrinsic values of sport and physical education. She also suggested possible future directions for the sport for development and peace field, pointing out the importance of increasing research initiatives that focus on the use of sport in mediating across borders, sharing knowledge achieved in order to improve upon practice and policy and widening of a sustainable networking .


Participants stated that they especially appreciated the opportunity to meet, exchange with and understand the views of a range of different people who are involved in sport for development and peace. Many of them were impressed by the fast development of this working area and expressed their hope for an improved collaboration between academics, foundations, ministries, local agencies and people from the field. “I will take hope with me from the conference, because when I see that by using sport people obtain something positive in terms of peace, I can feel that there is a chance for a positive change”, says Camilla Zamperini.


For more information, please visit the ICSSPE website