Citius, altius, fortius – communis: Using ‘Sport for Development’ to achieve social cohesion

In a joint virtual event, GIZ and DOSB highlighted the role of sport in development cooperation with a special focus on social cohesion. As part of their many years of successful cooperation, both partners have drawn attention to the social situation in partner countries of development cooperation. The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated how the lack of educational opportunities, violent conflicts and lack of health care especially affects the situation of children and youth around the world. It is precisely in this situation that innovative approaches to solving societal challenges are needed. In this context, sport, with its inspiring power, has a special role to play: it creates better future prospects for children and young people and strengthens social cohesion.

In the context of the joint web-talk ‘Citius, altius, forties - communis:  Mit „Sport für Entwicklung “mehr gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt bewirken’ the challenges and perspectives of ‘Sport for Development’ (S4D) with the DOSB were discussed. The TV presenter Tanja Samrotzki led through an exciting and varied programme with video messages and contributions from high-ranking experts who shed light on the topic from different perspectives.

The event was opened with greetings from Tanja Gönner (Chair of the GIZ Management Board of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit  (GIZ)) and Veronika Rücker (Chairperson of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB)) , who both expressed that sport is unique way to reach marginalized children and youth in partner countries.

The president of the CONSUDE (Consejo Suramericano del Deporte) Fátima Morales talked about the important contribution that sport can make to society and highlighted the important support of the German cooperation towards Sports for Development in South America. Furthermore, she emphasises that sport has an important role to play in counteracting the effects of the pandemic.

Yusra Mardini, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and member of the Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, talked about how sport helped her to restart her life after coming to Germany. Through sport she made new friends and was motivated to learn German:‘Sport is very important for refugees. Sport is good for communication, to get to know the people in the country better, to be involved in society and to be part of it!’ She is looking forward to her second participation in the Olympic Refugee Team at the Tokyo Games with great expectations and pride.

Britta Heidemann, our ‘Sport for Development’ ambassador has underlined the socio-political importance of sport: “Sport promotes team and community spirit - these skills are needed in every society. As an S4D-ambassador, I visited projects in Uganda and Jordan and was able to convince myself that these central principles of social coexistence can be conveyed in and through sport in a playful way. That is why I wholeheartedly support ‘Sport for Development’. The invited experts discussed the potential of S4D from different perspectives. Jörg Schnitzerling, chairman of the ASC Göttingen, represents the perspective of sport clubs involved in development cooperation. Nicola Scholl, founder of the NGO ‘Play Handball ZA’, shared her own experiences from her work in South Africa and Kenya. Carolin Bansbach, from the GIZ, presented examples of how sport can have a positive influence on social cohesion.

At the end, all participants strongly agree that the power of sport plays an important role in the current global situation and can enhance social cohesion.

In conclusion to the event, Michael Krake, Head of Department at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) gave a political reflection on the topic. The BMZ has recognized the potential of sport and has been using ‘Sport for Development’ as a cross-cutting issue in German development cooperation since 2013 in order to support children and young people in their personal and social development.

Around 200 representatives from sport, politics and development cooperation took part in the event and could also post their comments and questions in a chat in order to direct questions to the discussion panel and speakers during the event.