Sport as a resource of hope in making the art of the possible, possible
Last weekend saw IOC President Thomas Bach claim that sport is a “natural partner” when it comes to realizing the ambitious agenda that will guide global development over the next 15 years also known as the Sustainable Development Goals. Let me illustrate my reflection on this examples in 17 points:
1. Sport has a role to play in making the art of the possible, possible. Should we not use every means at our disposal to strive to make the world a less tense and more peaceful place?
2. Sport alone will not solve the problems of the world but it can make an effective contribution, help to win friends and influence, be a resource of hope and develop human capabilities.
3. As an effective aspect of modern cultural relations it can help countries and communities talk to one another and reduce the risk of misunderstanding. Conversations can be fostered around sporting events.
4. One of the pleasing things to have witnessed recently has been the way in which sport has taken a lead in the refugee crisis, but not just the refugee crisis. Sport was present when many international football fans and clubs produced resources to support the integration of refugees.
5. Sport was present and recognized on the 25 and 26 of September when the United Nations post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’S) were announced.
6. Sport was present as the UN announced a growing gap between the increasing numbers of people in need of humanitarian assistance and sufficient resources to provide relief.
7. Sport was present when Cuba and the USA entered into a new dialogue and drew a line under five decades of estrangement. On June 2nd 2015 the New York Cosmos beat Cuba 4-1 in a friendly soccer match. The match symbolised a new era of foreign relations between the United States and Cuba.
8. Sport matters because it can be less aloof than some other forms of diplomacy.
9. The Canadian, Samantha Nutt, one of the most intrepid voices in the humanitarian arena, founder of war child and author of Damned Nations, a book of uncommon power, pointed amongst other things to raising education levels and the part played by women in some of the most challenging circumstances in the world.
10. Nutt’s work covers decades of searching for answers to what can and should be done to help communities and countries caught up in conflict.
11. She reminds us that there is a great resilience, courage and strength in countries and communities where none ought to exist because of atrocities suffered, and that for those seeking to make a difference it is not about interventions paved with good intentions but about making the art of the possible, possible and sustainable.
12. The University of Edinburgh’s Academy of Sport [http://www.ed.ac.uk/education/institutes/spehs/academy-of-sport] has evidenced how Kenyan women runners have been willing to share resources won on the grand prix athletics circuit with those less fortunate than themselves.
13. What if 0.7% of the annual turn over from the 5 top Premier Football Leagues was earmarked to support the Homeless World Cup or a humanitarian crisis or conflict resolution fund?
14. We need to further the part that sport can play as a resource of hope, influence and fostering of effective international cultural relations.
15. If the language of sport can help ordinary people foster trust, cooperation, mutuality and reciprocity then we should use the global currency of sport in full.
16. Sport should be a necessary part of the modern toolbox of any foreign diplomat, ambassador, civil servant or individual charged with fostering international cultural relations. Those charged with fostering peace should be fully equipped and leave nothing left to chance.
17. Sport matters because it can provide opportunities for interventions and assist with making the art of the possible, possible.