Stéphane Diagana
Champion for Peace and World Champion in the 400m hurdles

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06/02/2020 par Stéphane Diagana

Sport, an indispensable subject in the school of life

With the way I have experienced sport, I know that it is a personal development tool for all young people. If we know how to accompany them in the practice of sport, we can train responsible and committed citizens. The goal is to compete in a competitive process while respecting the opponent. Whether they are excellent or not, they must be respected. These are values that are useful in social life. Beyond sport, we also find ourselves in situations of competition and collective work where we have to assume our responsibilities.

I am convinced of all this even more when we find ourselves in areas where people are made vulnerable by various and varied difficulties such as war, migration problems and so on. I am convinced that we can do a lot with sport.

I found myself facing some delicate situations, especially when I went to see street children in Casablanca. I was with Jean Galfionne (1996 Olympic pole-vaulting champion) but the children didn’t know us well. They saw a few pictures of our careers and their eyes changed. Sport helps a lot in reaching people. We played football with the children and it helped break down a barrier. An adult who plays sport raises awareness.

It’s nice to be set as an example. Spending 15 years of your life starting from a point on a track and going to that same point with 400m to run and 10 hurdles to cross, in itself it doesn’t make much sense. It’s a rather selfish thing to do. But what gives it meaning is the symbolism and the way to get there. Everything that was necessary to achieve his goals in terms of behavioral, personal development.

The second thing that makes sense is when I meet people telling me, “I remember in 1996 you were injured in Atlanta and then the next year I saw you win the world championships … and you can’t imagine how good it made me feel because I was fighting my illness”. If it can inspire and help people to tell themselves that nothing is ever lost, it directly gives more meaning to what I was able to do. Sport is symbolic. It’s the school of perseverance.

As a Champion of Peace with Peace and Sport, I am committed to carrying the association’s message. The actions of Peace and Sport have many advantages and we can see that sport creates a bridge with people who are opposed to each other. Sport is a common language that brings people together in the same joys, the same sorrows, the same stress. We become similar, regardless of religion, skin colour or origins.

For children, having the opportunity to exchange with Champions for Peace, sharing activities with other children, with people from different backgrounds, is enriching. Especially in a time of tension, bringing a little joy and life to these young people is essential. It is necessary to build around sport. This common language makes it possible to accomplish great things.

Peace and Sport is not only about going to complicated terrain, but it can be in societies where many difficulties arise, even in Europe. Peace and sport has a role to play everywhere.

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