As the Olympic Movement gets set to commemorate the unifying power of sport on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) in a few days, what better time to showcase the efforts of one young role model, who is raising awareness of sport’s universality and using it to positively impact her community?
An Ambassador at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), Moldavia’s Ana Maria Stratu has since been very busy. Be it working for her National Olympic Committee, the National Karate Federation of Moldova or competing at the European and World Karate Championships as the only female athlete representing her country, this driven young woman has also found the time to give back to her community.
Inspired to help make karate more accessible to women in Moldova and use her sport as a tool of empowerment for girls and women, Stratu recently organised an international Women’s Karate Festival with the support of IOC funding through the YA+ programme and the National Karate Federation.
The YA+ programme invites the community of YOG Ambassadors to apply for up to CHF 5,000 to support them in delivering their own grass-roots project designed to make a real and positive impact in their community through sport.
Stratu tested the waters in 2016 with a similar trial project entitled “Karate Kid”, which targeted local young girls and disabled children. Encouraged by the positive feedback and the success of this initiative, the young social entrepreneur decided to take the event to the next level. Having secured new partners, including support from UN Women Moldova, the Women’s Karate Festival held in March brought together 50 athletes from three countries. It included sports initiations and competitions, face-painting, as well as a UN Women information booth and delegation to promote gender equality and support girls who choose to practise martial arts.
Since initiating her projects, the Moldavian athlete has seen karate receive greater support within her country; and keen to continue using sport for a better world, she has now set her sights on achieving greater success in the future.
“My objective is to have an equal number of male and female karate athletes in our country,” she says. “Eventually, I would love to see some of these athletes representing Moldova at international events. Above all, it is aimed at building confidence and perseverance in these children. It is a long-term project, but after one year we have already built a strong base. I would love to raise awareness among other organisations in Moldova, showing them that sport can have social benefits and helping them to develop similar projects.”
As the IDSDP commemorates the power of sport and its universality, the IOC strives to use sport to help build a peaceful and better world.
Join the movement #sport4betterworld ahead of the IDSDP on 6 April!Visit www.olympic.org/idsdp to learn more about the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.