ChildFund New Zealand CEO Mark Collins reflects on how today's International Day for Sport for Development and Peace is a great reminder of the social, emotional and life skills that sport can teach children.
While having an English soccer-mad father meant I was never destined to play on the rugby field, growing up in New Zealand meant I knew about rugby and was an avid All Black supporter from a young age. My family was glued to the television, along with the rest of the country, when the All Blacks took on France in the 1987 Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park, back when international matches were still played during the day.
We are very lucky to live in an amazing country that has a proud sporting focus and history. It’s interesting to think that while the physical skills learnt in sport are valuable, the real power comes from the mental, social and emotional skills required to take part.
As adults we often take for granted the things that shaped us, we chalk them down to the common sense that we’ve accumulated from our experiences, and our values. But if you look a bit closer, many of those lessons have come from participating in sport.
Participating in sport as a youth definitely helped to shape me as the person I am today, sport teaches us so many valuable, non-physical skills that can be carried across all parts of life.
Goal setting is crucial in sport, after all no child sets foot on a sports field with the intention of losing or playing badly. You learn how to overcome obstacles through sport as no game goes exactly to plan and therefore resilience and grit is required to achieve your goal. Equally we have all suffered the bitterness of defeat in sport, even when we have tried our best, and so we have to learn emotional management which is a hugely valuable skill for young people. Also, most sports require you to work with others and so you learn and experience teamwork, both the rewards and challenges. Leadership is another very valuable skill born through sport and people learn the ability to inspire others both on and off the field.
So many of the skills we need in life can be found through sports. On International Day for Sports for Development and Peace on April 6th, let’s recognise the important role that sport plays in the development of great humans, and the power of sports to provide learnings for young people to tackle some of the most pressing challenges around the world – sport can be bigger than the game itself.
ChildFund Rugby is the charity partner for the Rugby World Cup 2021 playing in New Zealand this October and November, and is part of ChildFund Alliance’s Sport For Development programme.
About ChildFund Rugby
ChildFund Rugby is the charity partner for the Rugby World Cup 2021 playing in 2022, and is part of ChildFund Alliance’s Sport For Development programme. ChildFund Rugby, working through local sports organisations, helps vulnerable young people realise their rights and have opportunities to play, learn and grow through sport all around the world. Through a specifically designed rugby programme to help young people develop the critical social and emotional skills they need to set goals, manage emotions, build positive relations and make responsible decisions. Research shows this helps young people to overcome challenges, inspire positive social change and take leadership roles within their communities.
About International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is marked annually on April 6th to recognize the positive role sport and physical activity play in communities and in people’s lives across the globe. Learn more at www.un.org/en/observances/sport-day