Sport is now widely regarded as playing a major role in social and economic development. Sports have a positive effect on international development as well as for the individuals participating in them.
Currently though, the world is witnessing famines and political unrest in so many parts of the globe. What we know about poverty is that it hurts the youth more than adults; according to the World Bank, a vast majority of the world’s poor are under 18 and live in rural areas where agriculture is the main income generator.
It is difficult to reach those living in rural regions, making it difficult to know about their basic needs or to mobilise aid. On top of that, news feeds are filled with stories of refugees all over the world fleeing their homes with no idea of their future whereabouts.
Children are naturally a significant part of these events. They are the centre of the stories and the most severely affected. For them, basic needs are imperative and everything beyond might seem unimportant or insignificant.
With that, on this day especially, it is essential to remember those who are too poor to be able to participate in sport. This inequity is both a cause and a consequence of a cycle of economic disparities, transferring poverty from one generation to the next.
Those who look for the most basic of needs do not only live under psychological pressure due to uncertainty and insecurity, but also struggle to maintain their overall health and wellbeing. Therefore, sport has to be seen as a basic right. Kids should have the right to be kids, and sport is the easiest way to allow children to express themselves in an otherwise harsh daily reality.
Two imperative steps should take place, changing people’s perspectives and taking action. First, the responsibility is upon those reading the stories of the underprivileged to view the stories as human stories. After that, perhaps we can look at sport as an essential need, an outlet that gives them a ray of hope. We can then hope that the cycles will be broken, and those growing up in harsh conditions can feel empowered to do more for themselves, families and communities.
The UNHCR has started to implement sports projects in refugee camps. Many other organisations have followed and funders have sponsored leagues in order to bring communities together. This is a start, and especially for the youth, can enable people to see through sport that coexistence is possible. Then perhaps, the underlying cause for the civil unrest might be solved one league at a time.
Wriiten by Sara Nasr Allah from SportandDev.org