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Why Use Sports as a Tool for Development?

Studies have proven that sports can serve as an effective tool to motivate and train young people. In 2003, the United Nations Task Force on Sports for Development and Peace concluded that “sport offers a cost-effective tool to meet many development and peace challenges, and help achieve the MDGs [the UN’s Millennium Development Goals].”

Since 2004, the IDB has been actively supporting, collaborating on, and leading sports initiatives that facilitate the transfer of relevant skills from the playing field to youths’ lives in areas such as:

  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Discipline
  • Health
  • Respect
  • Self-Development
  • Teamwork

The Initiative Focuses on Four Areas:

  • Youth Development– Tailored sports program help develop transferable skills that improve youth employability and enhance access to job opportunities. These programs train youth for the labor market and promote an entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Health and Wellness– Not only can effectively developed sports programs directly improve the fitness levels and emotional well-being of young people, they can also impart valuable information regarding nutrition, the ramifications of risky behavior, and more.
  • Social Inclusion– In addition to young people, sports can also empower women, individuals with disabilities, and others, boosting their self-esteem and self-confidence, and helping them integrate more fully into society and the economy.
  • Violence Prevention– These programs engage youth and promote the use of sports to prevent violence. Sports can be used to teach relevant conflict resolution skills and to constructively channel the types of behaviors that might otherwise lead to youth violence.

The overarching impact of programs that use sports for social and economic development goes beyond transforming the individual participants and reaches the communities where these young people live and work.

“We believe that the skills learned on the soccer field can be transformed into skills for life and employment.”

IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno

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