Inspired by Nelson Mandela International Day, on 18 July 2017, The Adecco Group launched its first Global Sports & Inclusion Day (GS&ID), a day which brings together colleagues, Olympic and Paralympic athletes, partners and customers from around the world to celebrate the power of sport as it teaches us the true value of inclusion.

As Nelson Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

We asked a few Olympians – Rodrigo Garza (RG), Ellen Sprunger (ES) and Jovina Choo (JC) – to share their experience with us.

Why did you participate in the GS&ID?

RG: I work for the Global Marketing team of The Adecco Group and wanted to contribute to organising the Field Hockey workshop. Besides this, sport is the best channel that exists to facilitate inclusion and to create awareness in society regarding the little effort we all need to make. 

ES: I like to share my passion, and it was a great opportunity to share my passion for athletics. The day was perfect for bringing people together to respect each other, and to give the motivation to everyone to do and learn about different sports, because it is so important for your health and well-being.

JC: I was invited to participate and I think it is a fantastic initiative! Sport transcends boundaries and gave me the opportunity to meet people I usually wouldn’t be able to. I got to learn top tips from Rodrigo and also from Urs (Kläger), who led the wheelchair floorball workshop.

Why and how do you think such a platform supports Olympians?

RG: Every network is important and meaningful for the different communities. Olympians are one of those communities where all members share passion, interests, needs. When you are an athlete you get support and advice related to the sport from various sources, but none on other aspects of your life that are equally or more important.

What was the most inspiring or eye-opening moment?

JC: It is tough to mention just one! I was really inspired by Armin’s sharing of his cycling race across Africa. He epitomises what it means to chase after your dreams. It is not usually the physical barrier that stops us, but the psychological barrier.

What is your experience with the IOC Athlete Career Programme (ACP)?

ES: The Adecco Group helped me to find a job through the Athlete Career Programme with ‘I believe in you’ – a crowd-funding platform for sports projects, and it is very nice to not have to worry about work. It is very important for me to have something besides training because you never know when you might get injured. It helps to have people from various backgrounds around me.

What do you think are the most important benefits the IOC ACP provides to Olympians and why should they get involved?

ES: Your sports career is more or less over when you get into your thirties and life goes on, there is a long way to go, and it is important to have one foot in the world of work.

JC: As Ellen mentioned, your sports career is not infinite. Therefore, it is crucial to think about life after sports, and this planning should go hand in hand with your sports career plan. The IOC ACP provides resources to athletes to support them in this aspect.

RG: To me, it is important to open your eyes, get the right tools, learn from others’ experiences and enter the great network that ACP has become. Also very important is to get the professional advice from Adecco consultants in order to define the transition plan and strategy for the labour market. All athletes should get involved. And I will go one step further: all national sports associations should be encouraging athletes to get involved in the ACP. I hope this will be the case very soon. I will be happy to help any athlete who needs some sort of advice with regard to looking beyond the field of play.