People all over the world participate in sports – regardless of their age, fitness, sex, faith or culture. Many people practice sports themselves, while others are involved as devoted spectators, coaches or volunteers. Sport is a global phenomenon and a universal language spoken the world over.
Sport is a catalyst for positive social change and contributes in several ways to building and strengthening vital communities worldwide: it brings people together, encourages participation, promotes the integration of vulnerable groups in society and strengthens the position of children and youth. In addition, sport improves the health and individual wellbeing of citizens.
Sport has some unique features that make it an excellent tool for social change and development: it can attract and easily involve target groups that are otherwise hard to reach and it provides role models and promotes intrinsic values that play an important role in society. Consequently, sport is used increasingly as a tool to tackle social issues such as health, hygiene, gender equality, social inclusion, conflict management, economic empowerment and even environmental dilemmas. In this way, sport provides a winning opportunity to achieve broader development goals.
Sport is something very inspirational for young people (Pelé)
The Dutch government – as outlined in the policy document A World to Gain (Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2013) – wants to fight against poverty and injustice and contribute to sustainable and inclusive development for all. The International Sports Alliance (ISA), Right To Play (RTP) and the Royal Netherlands Football Federation (KNVB) believe that sport can deliver a valuable contribution to Dutch development goals, international trade relations and diplomatic affairs. Therefore, we have been developing and implementing sport-based interventions for years in cooperation with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to build and strengthen vital communities around the world.