Today marks the United Nations’ second annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. As a recognized leader in sports-based youth development, the U.S. Soccer Foundation is excited to take this chance to celebrate the power that soccer and other sports can have to promote positive social outcomes for underserved youth and communities.
The UN General Assembly established the Day of Sport for Development and Peace in 2013 in recognition of the potential that sports have to contribute to the international objectives of sustainable development and peace thanks to their popularity, universality, and foundation of positivity. Its first celebration on the 118th anniversary of the first Olympic Games’ Opening Ceremonies, was marked by a wide range of activities including panel discussions, fun runs, soccer tournaments, and social media campaigns. Foundation staff members also got involved in their own way!
The time has come again to commemorate this day, and we are proud to be one of the many groups around the world to take part. Today, sport for development and peace is honored in many different ways. Children and other community members in a vulnerable neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina will be welcomed to a recently renovated community field for sports and cooperative games. Community groups in Cairns, Australia will be reaching out to remote and indigenous populations to offer field hockey clinics. The Zimbabwean Sports and Recreation Commission is hosting a sports and fun day for people with physical disabilities that aligns with the festivities around the national Olympics competition to show the power of sports to unify populations.
It’s exciting to know that Soccer for Success will be taking place at hundreds of sites and with thousands of kids around the country today. In fact, on an average Monday, around 10,000 kids are physically active, learning about proper nutrition, and benefiting from positive adult coach-mentor relationships through the program.
While I agree that it is important to dedicate a specific day to recognizing and promoting sports-based development, I also know that consistency is a key factor in achieving the positive impacts that many of these kinds of programs are seeking. I am proud to be part of an organization that helps offer these opportunities to youth year round.
So what can you do today to celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace? Celebrating can be as simple as posting something on Facebook about a positive experience from your own life relating to playing sports, having a coach, or being on a team. Or maybe you can start working on a bigger initiative to share your positive experiences with others. Hint: consider exploring the Passback program to get some ideas!
April 6th is about celebrating the progress already made in sport for development and peace, and considering what is left to be accomplished. The U.S. Soccer Foundation team is proud to have so many shared experiences with our partners, program operators, and youth across the country – and we look forward to being able to report back about even more positive impacts created through soccer a year from now!