‘How sport promotes development’ – Workshop discussion at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

After several attempts had to be postponed due to the pandemic, the so called ‘Werkstattgespräch’ (workshop discussion) finally took place in virtual format on the evening of 6 June 2021. Workshop discussions are a fixed event format of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The aim of the series of events is an open exchange on changing topics in order to create space for input, discussion and suggestions for the further development of the topic area – this time under the headline of ‘Daring more sustainability - How sport promotes development’.


Hosted by Dr. Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary within the BMZ, the event brought together a variety of experts and practitioners from the field of ‘Sport for Development’ (S4D), who gave inputs and engaged in a panel discussion. For example, Gerald Asamoah, former national football player and ambassador for ‘Sport for Development’, reported on his commitment and motivation. Gerald Asamoah spoke about his personal experiences and his conviction that sport is capable of overcoming barriers and of providing young people prospects by conveying important values and life skills.


Dr. Carolin Braun, an experienced S4D instructor, brought in experiences from the field by virtually travelling to Uganda and Colombia and talking to S4D coaches ‘on the ground’. It became evident that S4D is not just an abstract idea but that the methodology is being used day by day in the BMZ partner countries: With the right methodological guidance, sport is able to teach values such as team spirit and fair play, contribute to character building and promote inclusion.


The panel discussion showed that many different players are rallying behind the idea of S4D and promote it in different ways. While Stefan Wagner from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim outlined how professional football clubs can use their appeal to promote sustainable development, Dr. Karen Petry from the German Sport University (DSHS) provided insights from a scientific perspective. All participants emphasized that sport must meet changing societal expectations and play its part in creating a more inclusive and sustainable future.


In the subsequent question and answer session, the participants exchanged views with the audience, particularly about the next major football event in Germany: EURO 2024 was identified as a lighthouse project with huge potential in terms of sustainability in sports. With its mass appeal, it has the opportunity to demonstrate how major sporting events can be conducted in a sustainable and climate-neutral way.


In his closing statement, Norbert Barthle emphasised that stakeholders from different areas (practitioners, sports federations, politics, science, etc.) need to work together to further advance the S4D approach. With regard to SDG17, new partnerships are crucial not only to ensure greater sustainability, but to create awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in general. The event showed that a large network already exists and that many different actors are working together to take advantage of the potential of sport.