Building peace one day at a time through sport
This Peace Day, 21 September marks the 14th annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence, which was unanimously adopted by the member states of the United Nations in 2001.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has said, “Sport is a world language, a common denominator that breaks down 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 development,” and I believe this to be fundamentally true.
During my journey to institutionalise this day on a global scale, I have seen how sport can unite communities, and because of this, Peace One Day now has three main sports initiatives which are One Day One Goal, Try For Peace and Move For Peace. These campaigns harness the power of football, rugby, running, swimming, and cycling respectively to bring people together in peace.
I believe that sport is a universal language which can transcend boundaries; if you put a football down on the ground between children who don’t speak the same language within minutes they can together become the next Christiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
Since our most established initiative One Day One Goal launched in 2008 we have seen football being used globally as a tool to unite, whilst spreading the message of Peace Day, 21 September throughout all the UN Member States.
I have seen football unite communities that are still reeling from the devastation of earthquakes, war-torn cities, fighting forces, and how it can promote intercultural cooperation.
One of my standout examples of One Day One Goal campaign in action is the matches that took place in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro last year. The local communities came together to celebrate Peace Day and gave the local youth the opportunity to showcase their talents.
My vision is for more sports to be utilised globally on Peace Day to bring the world together from grassroots fields to large stadia and conflict areas, and unite not only the players but countries and fans and encourage them to think about peace and subsequently create a more peaceful and more sustainable world.
We are currently in the middle of a three-year campaign in the Great Lakes region of Africa, where sport is embraced as a major tool for peace. We have over 1300 sporting activities already registered taking place in the region for Peace Day this year and news of many more coming in daily.
I would like to leave you with a thought, Who Will You Make Peace With on Peace Day 21 September?