FundLife International, Terres en Mêlées, Altus Sport and Cross Cultures Project Association North Macedonia are the latest recipients of the International Olympic Committee’s Sport and Active Society development grants.
Whether it’s promoting equality, encouraging community development or driving social change, sport has a greater role to play in society than ever before, and the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) celebrates exactly that.
It was declared by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2013, and since then every 6 April has been a great opportunity to promote the ways that sport can help communities and foster tolerance, solidarity and development.
The projects that received the IOC Sport and Active Society (SAS) Commission development grants reflect the values celebrated by the IDSDP. Every year, the SAS Commission selects a series of grassroots organisations across the world – which are using sport and physical activity as a means to tackle key social issues – to obtain its development grants, worth CHF 20,000 each.
This year, the four grants on offer were based on the themes of social inclusion of refugees through sport; promoting gender equality at all levels of sport; bringing sport and physical activity to the urban setting; and engaging youth and the elderly in physical activities.
Competition was stiff, with applications coming from organisations across the five continents, ranging from International Federations and professional sports clubs to civil society organisations and non-profits. Ultimately, the four winners were decided by an SAS Commission jury who had the difficult job of whittling down the long list of strong applicants.
“In today’s world, more than ever, it is important to keep moving and be physically active in our communities,” said Sam Ramsamy, the Commission Chair and an IOC Honorary Member. “I was thrilled by the outstanding quality of applications that we received for the 2019 Sport and Active Society Commission development grants. We received applications from all over the world. The four winners are delivering effective sport-for-all programmes using rugby and football, among other sports, as a catalyst for change in local communities. We look forward to seeing how these development grants can help them pursue their missions, and inspire others who are making tremendous strides in increasing access to sport across the globe.”
Giving opportunities to displaced children
FundLife International was launched in the Philippines in 2014 in the wake of the Haiyan super typhoon, a disaster which displaced more than one million children across the country. Over the past five years, FundLife’s life skills mentoring programme, and its flagship initiative, Football for Life, have provided opportunities, psycho-social support and education for thousands of children from marginalised and displaced communities. Last year, its annual futsal festival brought together nearly 600 underserved young competitors from across the country, and celebrated the launch of the Community Football Girls League to provide greater access to sport and education for girls growing up in at-risk neighbourhoods.
Building future female leaders through rugby
Founded in 2011, Terres en Mêlées is a pioneering organisation which uses rugby as an educational tool to develop female youth leaders across Africa, through its Rugby Solidaire programme. Operating in villages across Madagascar, Togo, Burkina Faso and Morocco, the organisation is training teachers to help thousands of children access both education and sport, through rugby. Terres en Mêlées has a particularly strong focus on empowering women, and it estimates that, so far, more than 27,000 girls aged between 10 and 18 have benefitted from its initiatives, including those who would not normally be able to attend school.
Taking sport to the streets in South Africa
Altus Sport works at grassroots level by assisting the underprivileged suburbs in 17 communities across the Tshwane region in South Africa. Its mission is to assist children and coaches in these disadvantaged communities to expand their sporting environment and, in doing so, empower them to make positive choices in life. The organisation’s Let’s Move programme is aimed at improving physical activity levels in both boys and girls aged 10 to 14 through regular sessions, events and tournaments across a variety of sports, including football and rugby. The programme is closely twinned with a sports management initiative focused on training young adults in these communities to be youth sport leaders, and boosting their employability prospects in the process.
Promoting ethnic reconciliation in North Macedonia
Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA) North Macedonia is part of a global network of organisations that use football to stimulate peaceful co-existence, equality and tolerance between ethnic groups in post-conflict regions. North Macedonia was a federal unit of the Republic of Yugoslavia before gaining independence in 1991. Today, the population consists of a range of ethnic groups including Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Romans and Serbs. Since 2000, CCPA North Macedonia has implemented a grandparents-led football programme which looks to bring together children across multi-ethnicities and teach values such as gender equality, healthy lifestyle and sport for all, while in the process promoting peace and reconciliation through the region.