Friday, 10 July 2015

Could sport play a bigger role in development?

When thinking about International Development there are several things that might come to mind, for example, poverty, education, health and the environment. But how many people think of sport? How can sport help with international development? Can sport be used to facilitate the different social and welfare needs of those in the processes of development?

Throughout history we have seen indications of how sport can unite people. In South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup the nation came together with the love of football and there was an atmosphere of incredible joy and happiness within the country. There can be many differences amongst people throughout the world but often one common interest from South America, to Africa, Europe and Asia is the love of sport. Sport brings people together. Whatever differences people may have, these are more often than not left to the side whilst people enjoy many different sporting activities. Not only does sport bring people together but it also empowers people to a great extent. The many achievements that have been recognised in the world of sport throughout time from the first ascent of Mount Everest to Usain Bolt’s world record sprints have empowered not only the athletes themselves but many others who strive to follow in their footsteps. 

Sport is an incredible platform from which to strive for international development and can be used to empower the disadvantaged. A great example of this in Tamale, Ghana is the development of parasports teams. With the introduction of Wheelchair basketball and Wheelchair Tennis amongst others, this gives people who are at a disadvantage in this particular society a platform in which to show off the incredible talents and abilities they have. This can go a long way to reverse any stigmatisation faced by those with disabilities when people realise that it is not about what a person cannot do but rather what they can do and how they can adjust to do things differently. 

At the Resource Centre project in Tamale the phrase “Disability is not inability” is often reiterated and this statement is a powerful message when combined with sports to demonstrate this. However small these developments may be, they are extremely important on a national scale and will hopefully, in the near future, lead to better facilities and laws to help the disadvantaged. As previously mentioned, sport can be an incredible platform to empower the disadvantaged and work towards development and change.

Written by Jack Wilson

Wheelchair basketball team in Tamale

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