Sport for Development: How familiar are you with this term? Could you describe it to someone else? Can you name at least one program in Sport for Development?

This post, part of the month of action for Sport for Development, aims to help increase your knowledge. Here are 7 tips that will guide you in any conversation about Sport for Development:

1. Sport for Development is the use of sport to create social change

Sport for Development is the use of sport beyond fun and games. It’s the use of sport to bring about lasting social change in communities--sport as a tool for development and peace. Sport for Development programs and initiatives can inspire and achieve things like: Helping children learn and adopt important skills, social and health habits; reaching youth with the message of self-improvement and teamwork; inspiring groups of advocates at the grassroots, national and global level to overcome social and/or health issues and challenges.

2. Why Sport?

  1. Sport plays an important role in all societies (either competitive, entertainment, activity or play).

  2. Sport is a fundamental human right. Access to sport and participating in sport is a fundamental right for all.

  3. Sport has the power to bring people together, mobilise them to take action, and inspire global change. Sport very naturally promotes the inclusion, citizenship and participation and it stands for human values that are important to all communities such as respect for your opponent, acceptance of agreed upon rules, teamwork, fairness and dealing with loss and wins.

  4. Sport is the language that knows no boundaries. Sport can reach all people regardless of geography, ethnicity or social status. It's reach and popularity from the most remote communities in the world to the most populous stadiums, and it's rich foundation of positive values, make Sport ideally placed to contribute to the United Nations objectives for development and peace.

  5. Sport programs take us one step closer to ensuring communities that are healthy, confident and empowered.

3. International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is April 6

The vast reach of sport, its global popularity and its base of positive values make ideally position sport to contribute toward United Nations’ objectives for development and peace. To formally recognise this, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) was adopted in 2014 signifying global recognition that sport doesn’t just product better sporting outcomes. It also helps produce better health, education, social inclusion and social equality outcomes.

4. Sport is key to the Sustainable Development Goals

From the UN.org: Sport has proven to be a cost-effective and flexible tool in promoting peace and development objectives.

"Sport is also an important enabler of sustainable development. We recognize the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives." - Declaration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The United Nations envisages sport as an important and powerful tool with the potential to tackle challenges entailed in each of the 17 SDGs.

5. Sport for Development is not a cure-all to development problems

Sport has so much positive potential to inspire and create social change. At the same time, it’s negative side effects such as violence, corruption, discrimination, nationalism and fraud must be effectively monitored and guided so that Sport can help societies reach their full positive potential.

6. One Goal is a Sport for Development movement

The One Goal movement believes in the power of sport as the catalyst that can inspire a global football community of 1.4 billion to tackle child malnutrition and give the next generation of footballers a more equal playing field on the pitch and in life.

Through Sports for Development programs, One Goal is helping children living in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities to have a sporting chance at growing up healthy and strong. Capitalising on the existing popularity of “the world game”, One Goal and partners are providing football coaching and life skills clinics to help encourage healthier eating and a healthy lifestyle, working in partnership to build new football pitches in communities such as refugee camps, and initiating new sporting programs at schools to promote the inclusion of girls and to encourage physical activity and the right to play for all children.

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In addition, sport clinics and workshops are acting as a platform to engage families and the community at large with the importance of a healthy diet, nutrition, and a healthy and active lifestyle for all ages.

7. Why Sports for Development, and why now?

From UN.org: Sport and play are human rights that must be respected and enforced worldwide. ...Sport can no longer be considered a luxury within any society but is rather an important investment in the present and future, particularly in developing countries.

“Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the walls, all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and for development.” – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

"Sport has the capacity to empower individuals and bring one’s moral values to the forefront; it can play a strategic role in transferring life skills and communicating useful, encouraging messages on important issues, thus driving social change. This new commemoration on the international calendar will further promote the value of sport as a catalyst for development and peace.” – Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace


May is the month of action for Sport for Development by One Goal and partners. Join us all month long by following our weekly themes, engaging in important conversation online, participating in sport and advocating for sports access, organization of grassroots sporting activities, and child health for all.

Follow One Goal on Facebook.com/OneGoal and @OneGoalMovement on Twitter from 1-31 May for stories, photo, video and opportunities to make a difference for the next generation through Sport.

Read more posts from the month of action for Sport for Development from One Goal: