Making sports work for development

For SportWorks, IDSDP is a day about sparking conversations on the power of sport, and connecting people and ideas.

The International Day for Sport and Development and Peace is not just a day to mark how sport contributes to reaching our development and peace objectives. For us at SportWorks, it is also about sparking conversations and connecting people and ideas.

If there is something that our events and discussions have taught us, it is that there is a long way to go to maximise the use of sport for social outcomes. This includes challenges of funding, monitoring and evaluation, and many others. However, how could we face these challenges if we don’t make bridges, not only between organisations that work for sport and development, but between these and the wider world of professional sports?

This is more than just “networking” – it is about transforming the “information” held by each stakeholder in the sports community into “knowledge”, and then into “wisdom”. This requires the boldness to bring sport and development leaders to the spotlight, where they can be heard by key decision-makers in the industry. And to invite people to go beyond their comfort zones and to share with their peers and even their adversaries or competitors, in a safe and prepared space, where dialogue can flow and nourish good ideas.

This is what we have been doing every day, through our SportWorks TALKS series and through live and online events, such as SportWorks TOGETHER and BRIDGES. We are specialists in connections, and we gather and amplify voices of those who are specialists in any relevant topic for the sports industry. It is a win-win combination. The IDSDP, then, gives us a good chance to reflect, and take note of the work that is being done, and what we need to do to reach the next level.

Over the past year, we have hosted several guest speakers for our SportWorks TALKS, podcasts and events, discussing various issues related to sustainability in and around sport, inclusion in and through sport, and sport and development in general, among many other issues. What we learned is that there is excellent work still unseen and useful knowledge less widespread than it should be. Therefore, we want to ensure that these initiatives get the platform they deserve, and their voices are amplified.

For IDSDP this year, we are launching a campaign highlighting leaders in this field and what inspires them. We want to use this platform to have these important conversations, as we also recognise the amazing work that individuals and organisations are doing in this field. This takes on from our recent SportWorks TOGETHER on the Sustainable Development Goals, where participants from across the sporting spectrum came together to dissect how sport can best contribute to the SDGs. This included good practices, ideas, challenges, and the road which lies ahead.

As an organisation with a primary orientation to professional sports, we feel the priorities should be on how we can better connect the sports community and bring them to these issues – including the decision-makers. The feedback we had so far, from leaders across some of the most important social organisations in Europe and worldwide, is that the space we have been creating is fostering their creativity, inspiration and hope. And as we see this vibrant energy reverting in partnerships, sponsorships and meaningful action, we know we will reach our goal – even if there will be always more to be done.

We first got this article published on www.sportanddev.org, you can find the link to that here.

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