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First Int’l Day of Sport for Development and Peace celebrated

By JT - Apr 07,2014 - Last updated at Apr 07,2014

AMMAN — Celebrating the first-ever International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), Generations For Peace (GFP) volunteers in 15 countries, including Jordan, led activities to demonstrate how sport can be used as a powerful tool to bridge gender, religious and ethnic divides in their communities. 

Generations For Peace volunteers in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Uganda and Yemen joined the worldwide call to action, according to a GFP statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times. 

Demonstrating GFP “carefully designed sport-based games, the volunteers showed the effectiveness of sport as a universal language and vehicle for change to address conflict and violence”, the statement said. The activities helped boost awareness and support for ongoing work in their communities.

HRH Prince Feisal, GFP founder and chairman, emphasised the significance of IDSDP: “I was delighted when the UN General Assembly declared April 6 as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. This is an important day to engage children and youth in sport. It helps promote and boost the work that our Generations For Peace volunteers around the world are carrying out each day and week to lead change in their own communities.”

“They are using sport as a powerful entry point to engage with children and youth to raise awareness and help tackle local issues of conflict and violence, inequality and exclusion, and social development,” the statement quoted the prince as saying.

In Kabul, Afghanistan, GFP volunteers organised a demonstration football match between 30 young people from Miakhel and Sahak, two rival villages in Kabul province in conflict over land. 

“During the closing there was a discussion and reflection from the participants and audience about the match, and how sport can be used for development and peace.” 

“We would like the policy makers to understand the power of sport — it can be used as a vehicle for peace building and development. We are showing how tools like sport can bring people together,” GFP pioneer from Afghanistan Sayed Ikram Afzali said.

In Baku, Azerbaijan, GFP volunteers delivered a presentation on the role of sport as a tool for peace building to more than 50 participants including refugees, internally displaced people, and representatives from the UNDP, the UN Department of Public Information and UNICEF.

“As well as encouraging dialogue and understanding between people, sport can also advance human rights and act as a driver for social change,” the statement quoted GFP delegate from Azerbaijan Aysel Asgarova as saying.

The global celebrations to mark the first-ever IDSDP are helping to raise awareness and support for GFP volunteers around the world. 

GFP is the only peace-through-sport organisation officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee, and has more than 8,400 volunteers in 50 countries, leading local change in their own communities in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. 

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