The multi-sport complex in Lusaka, Zambia, part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Sport for Hope Programme, marks three years of promoting and facilitating access to sports for young athletes and local communities.
Patrick Chamunda, the IOC member from Zambia, today spoke about the success of the IOC’s flagship project at the 3rd International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development, which is currently taking place at the UN headquarters in New York.
The Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYCD) has grown considerably since it first opened its doors in 2010. Welcoming on average 10,000 youngsters per month, the state-of-the-art sports centre, which was launched three years ago by the IOC with the support of International Federations and TOP Partner Samsung, today features an Olympic swimming pool, a lodge and a health centre, hosting Zambia’s first sports science unit. In all, the facility offers training opportunities for 16 different sports.
At the New York forum, the Centre was also praised by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had visited the facility last year: “Last year’s joint visit to Zambia with Dr Rogge had a similar purpose – to highlight the link between sport, peace and development, and to further strengthen the very close ties between the IOC and the United Nations. We visited the impressive Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka. We met some of the young athletes using the facility and saw how the Centre is benefiting the community.”
Celebrating its third anniversary, the multi-sport centre recently saw over 8,000 young athletes, aged between 10 and 17 and led by their coaches, showcasing their sporting talents in various competitions and taking part in cultural activities and health education sessions.
“Some children came here without any knowledge of the sport they are now excelling in”, commented Clement Chileshe, Director of the OYDC. “Seeing children showing their skills in sports like hockey, tennis, judo or swimming shows that the Centre is serving its purpose.”
A young athlete reaping the benefits of attending the sports centre is 16 year-old Abigail Chindele: “I am very happy to be celebrating the Centre’s three years of existence. For me, everything I know about judo I learnt from here”, added the aspiring judoka. “I didn’t even know judo existed before coming to the Centre.”
This anniversary comes shortly after the OYDC successfully hosted the 10th Confederation of Aquatic Nations Association (CANA) Zone 3 & 4 Championship. The swimming gala was a four-day event which saw 200 swimmers compete from 10 different countries. This not only demonstrates the legacy produced by the creation of such a multi-purpose venue, but is also another catalyst for furthering access to and the development of sport in developing countries.
Building on success
Under the auspices of the IOC’s Sport for Hope Programme, and following the success of the Zambian Centre, a second Olympic Youth Development Centre is currently being built in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As with the first Centre in Zambia, the OYDC in Haiti will serve the local community and elite athletes, and will include sporting venues as well as healthcare and educational programmes and administrative facilities.
Hope and development through sport
The Sport for Hope Programme aims to provide athletes, young people and communities in developing countries with opportunities to practise sport and be educated in the values of Olympism. Believing that every individual should have access to sport, the IOC works continuously towards making this vision a reality.
Learn more about the IOC’s development through sport
Learn more about the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Zambia