• Sport is a powerful educational tool: Experts

    February 10th, 2011 from www.qatarqlick.com

    Apart from being a source of entertainment and physical fitness, sport is a powerful social and educational tool in achieving goals on development and peace, according to an expert panel yesterday. They were speaking during a forum on ‘Sport as an Incentive’ sponsored by Qatar Foundation at the Aspire4Sport conference and expo which concluded yesterday. “Through sport, we can educate children on leadership, foster role models, promote peace and give children hope for the future,” said Wilfried Lemke, United Nations Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace, whose job is find ways on how to use sport to help achieve Millennium Development Goals. Lemke also underscored the important role sport plays in promoting tolerance, understanding and gender parity among people. “When players are in the pitch, they forget their differences such as colour or religion; they just play and have fun. They learn values that make them better human beings.”

    However, Lemke said encouraging governments to launch projects on sport still remains a big challenge as governments say they have other priorities.

    “Majority of governments say sport is not their priority and that they have other major concerns such as health and education,” said Lemke, adding since science and education are being prioritised in all parts of the world today, integrating sport in education is vital.

    “In order to convince governments, we need to prove sport works,” said Tom Pitchon of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Pitchon manages 32 of the 78 projects of the foundation across five continents.

    He cited studies which say that sport can impact a country’s economy and tackle challenges on crime and health among others, adding these evidences can be used as a basis for policies vital in promoting sport.

    Nick Gates of Coaches Across Continents, a not-for-profit development programme that uses soccer as a vehicle for social change, said there was a considerable decline in teenage pregnancy and domestic violence in areas where they have conducted the programmes. Coaches Across Continents has been utilising unique and innovative approaches to teaching soccer to various communities in developing countries mostly in Africa.

    Gates said they make sure that they teach soccer in a fun way as it creates a long-term positive impact on children.

    The panellists which also included Sayyid Khalid bin Hamad bin Hamoud Al Bousaidi, President of Oman Football Association and Nathan Tomassini, Executive Director of Center for Sport Leadership at the Virginia Commonwealth University also discussed translating policies into action and making sport initiatives sustainable through multi-partnerships.

    They also shared various sports projects that have proved successful around the world