Promoting Social Positive Impact through Sport
02/24/2014 10:13

At its latest session, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to create and set an annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. From 2014 forward, every 6th of April shall celebrate by all means the potential of sport to Unite and Support.


The choice of the 6th of April is an echo to the opening day of the first Olympiad of modern times in Athens in 1896. With the restoration of the Games, the ancient ages’ Greek tradition of the Ekecheira was called upon again. This is what is well known as the Olympic Truce. In ancient times, the ekecheira ("laying down of arms") consisted of agreeing to cease hostilities in order to allow participants to travel and take part in the Games.


Sport is an everyday celebration at many levels for many individuals participating in sport practices. Yet access to sport could be more universal than it is now.  Setting a commemorative date and annual celebration is the opportunity to keep those realities in mind: that sport is a human right that should benefit all, and moreover, that sport is a vehicle for social and cultural interaction, for intercommunity cohesion and reconciliation. Every 6th of April should therefore be the privileged place for symbolic stances and concrete actions.


International federations can play a determinant role in turning this day into a special annual celebration by being the top flag carriers of the recognition of this potential, inspiring their stakeholders at all levels with good and exemplary practices where sport is used to bring people closer together.


A Universal Truth: The Power Of Sport To Unite


This decision is the continuation of the accelerated recognition worldwide in the past decade of the contribution of sport to overcome conflicts, division and frustration in many situations and at all levels.


Sport is indeed a universal language. Its neutral value relies on the fact that everyone can comprehend the rules, and everyone is equal on the field of play. Sport is also a place to meet, become closer and mix people together.


It would be naïve to ignore that sport can be utilised to feed division and self-interests: sport is indeed a tool that can fit any purpose. But with an adapted and structured approach, sport is by far the strongest vehicle to serve positive social impact.


At the individual level, sport is a driver for self-accomplishment, teaching values of perseverance and discipline. At a collective level, all sports are a driver for trust and solidarity. Sport is inspirational for the youth, and can help overcome conflicts and difficulties in many situations. The list is long of cases and social scourges where sport can promote peace and development: youth delinquency, social reintegration, post-war rehabilitation, inter-community reconciliation, etc.


This potential is unquestionable and undeniable, and has progressively fit into the agenda. Notably, since the creation of a special office in 2001 at the United Nations, whose mission is to favor the implementation of programs using sport for development and peace, there have been intense reflection and exchanges on this potential. As a result, many platforms and forums have developed worldwide, with multiple associations and International Federations investing in that field.


From the sport perspective, some international federations have developed dedicated policies. The International Judo Federation created a specific Judo for Peace Commission with many concrete initiatives taking place in association with international competitions. And indeed, international federations must be key figures of inspiration toward their members and stakeholders. Sport diversity, incarnated by the multiple sports recognized by SportAccord, is a richness to tackle various issues. Now the 6th of April shall be a date to demonstrate and instigate action.  


The Way to Celebrate: Think Global, Act Local


This date should be inscribed in all sport organisations’ agendas and school programmes, at international, national and local levels. The 6th of April should above all be a day of sport practices and discovery, and notably a day during which elite sport looks at the grassroots and engages to set pathways for participation.


Setting such a date will favor a systematic and mimetic commitment approach by various stakeholders. Though the policies need to be consistent and build through the whole year to be efficient, the 6th of April should be the cornerstone momentum to create, measure and implement positive sport activities.


Global visibility and communication drive awareness and attention and in that view the role of international federations is to pave the way, act as and include role models, create synergies, and favor top-down approaches. Then, in order to be effective and operational, the actions need to be oriented at the community level, and in particular, toward the youth.


The first edition in 2014 of this new International Day coincides with the opening day of the annual SportAccord Convention, which will take place in Belek/Antalya, in Turkey. The SportAccord Convention is the place “where sport meets”, a six-day annual gathering of over 2,000 leading representatives of international sport. It is a unique networking environment and platform for exchanges.


Building on this opportune timing, SportAccord will first of all draw the attention of all its members and participants to the Convention on this new celebration day. This shall be the starting point for declarations of intent and kicking off dedicated policies. We are at early stages of setting this date in stone, and the very first objective is to embrace all sport leaders and stakeholders in this commitment.


From symbolic stances to concrete achievements, the SportAccord team will organise a special event on the 6th of April dedicated to the local youth and population of Antalya/Turkey. This will be guided by two main objectives: on the one hand a grassroots sport celebration including special contests and extended to the discovery of multiple sports, and on the other hand, a tolerance and cohesion celebration bringing together people of various social and cultural horizons.


It is very important that this first edition drives exemplary initiatives. Through years, this date shall become universal, a day dedicated to sport practices where everybody, from global to local, commits to promote social positive impact through sport, and Sport will truly become a tool to build better Society. International sports federations have vast potential in their hands to carry this 6th of April flag.


SportAccord Integrity Unit