Sport is a remarkable tool for creating social bonds
“The timing is no coincidence. On Monday 21st September 2020, The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) launched its new online platform, called “Sport en Commun”. The launch coincided with the International Day of Peace, which has been celebrated on this date every year for the last four decades. The official launch will take place on 12 November 2020 during the Global Meeting of Public Development Banks in Paris.
No coincidence then. By choosing the 21st September, AFD has set the tone: sport is no longer simply a physical activity, entertainment or business. It is also a formidable lever for development. In its widespread use, sport for all can be used to develop peace, health, education and sustainability. Either way, its strength and impact have been demonstrated across the world.
Emmanuel Macron, the French Head of State, made it clear in his speech in November 2017 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: sport should be recognized as a powerful vehicle for economic and social development in Africa. The “Sport en Commun” platform is part of this political rationale and will first of all be implemented on the African continent. Its objective is to connect the world of sport with the world of development, in particular through services that bring together donors and people with projects.
Africa is teeming with local and national charities and associations which use sport as an avenue of action. These organizations have understood the decisive role that sport can play for education, health, inclusion, the emancipation of girls, and the reduction of inequalities. These organizations realized, often well before politicians and major institutions, that sport is a tool for creating social ties. ” Sport en Commun” is also intended to become a forum for sharing ideas, projects and best practices. At AFD, we see sport as a means of development in the broad sense, for education, social welfare, health, urban planning, and of course peace. We will work with key players in these areas. During my presentation at the last International Peace and Sport Forum in December 2019, I met experts and committed athletes and we discussed the potential of sport to boost social innovation.
The phenomenon is not new, but it is now growing stronger. For a long time, African partner countries put the emphasis on literacy. This was necessary. Today, they are waiting for new resources to better connect societies. Like them, donors are coming back and in turn exploring areas that had hitherto been little exploited. For both of them, sport has tremendous potential, to be further examined. The social bond has become vital for the future of societies and the planet.
It is true that, for the time being, the current health crisis has slowed down certain projects and developments. It forced us to postpone the launch of our platform for a few weeks. It forced the IOC to postpone the 2022 Youth Games in Dakar, Senegal by four years. The first Olympic event in history on African soil will now take place in 2026. In these difficult and uncertain times, societies need a strong community bond even more. They can find it in sport for all in Africa, and elsewhere.”