Benedict Mutimba (Algeria) on Engaging Youth through Sport

June 15, 2012

He Zhenliang, the Chairman of the IOC Commission for Culture and Olympic Education, writes “In today’s world marked with fast economic and social development, but also with conflicts, the Olympic Movement and all its stakeholders have to think about how to ensure that sport remains attractive to children and young people in our society, which is increasingly interested in leisure driven entertainment.” Nothing can be more true that that statement. We live in a world where we are faced with so many challenges such as obesity. Children in deprived communities need hope and a sense of achievement and physical activity and sports have an important role to play.
One might ask, what are these Olympic values? In brief these are:
    • Respect – fair play; knowing one’s own limits; and taking care of one’s     health and the environment.
    • Excellence – how to give the best of oneself, on the field of play or in life;     taking part; and progressing according to one’s own objectives.
    • Friendship – how, through sport, to understand each other despite any     differences.

There are a variety of different ways to teach the Olympic values in years to come including encouraging all participating countries to teach the Olympic values at grassroots levels, be it in primary or secondary schools, such that they become as common as the Golden Rule found in all religions.

Additionally, active participation in the Olympic weeks held all over the world should encourage former Olympic participants to go on a campaign informing youths in marginalized parts of countries to take part in sport. Sport stands as an important societal institution and is considered as important in relaying ideals, norms, and values to those who participate or spectate. Indeed, the inception of the modern Olympic Games was in part an attempt to revive the Games with the basis of reforming and highlighting these sporting ethics. Within its charter, the modern Olympic Movement illustrates the institutional values of sport as a goal to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind in a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play.

Related, we should not be left behind by technology and should promote the Olympic values on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. If we can’t beat them, then why not join them? On these platforms we should invite the youth to come out of their comfort zones and take part in Olympic Day Runs, which are organized in communities near them.

Finally, we should take advantage of the worldwide attention during the Olympic Games and hold concurrent games in our communities, teaching youth sports which they haven’t heard or practiced, like badminton, bobsleigh, or archery. This way, the youths have more interest in the whole concept of the Olympic Games. A wise man said, “The most important thing in the Olympics is not to win but to participate, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.”
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