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AUSC Region 5 commenced its commemoration of the month of Sport for Development and Peace on the 6th of April 2021. This is as extension of the United Nations International Day of Sport for Development and Peace celebrated on 6 April 2021. The Region 5 commemoration will last for the entire month of April 2021 with a number of initiatives lined up to raise public awareness on the role of sport in promoting national development and peace. The Region 5 celebrations will involve various regional stakeholders in all Member Countries, including Regional Sports Confederations, Government Ministries, Sports Commissions/Councils and National Olympic Committees (NOC). Sport has the power to change the world; it is a fundamental right, a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and promote sustainable development and peace, as well as solidarity and respect. It is a universal language that has immense capabilities of silencing the guns and promoting human and social capital development. Sport therefore is that vector for nation building and reconciliation, a conduit for sustainable development. As part of the commemoration, Region 5 has lined up a number of activities. The Morning Doctor programme on Facebook and YouTube channel, hosted by Dr Phatokuhle Zondi, will be used a vehicle to promote and discuss health-related and physical activities with various guests. This programme will be running weekly programmes every Wednesday at 10am focusing on fundamental elements of sports for development and peace. A number of guests have been lined up to unpack key issues pertaining to the month-long commemorations. The e-Fitness, an online aerobics programme run by Region 5 every Friday morning at 6am will also be used to promote physical activity and well-being. All Member Countries, Regional Sports Confederations and stakeholders including members of the public are being invited to take part. Both programmes will be used as the main platforms to commemorate Sport for development and Peace during the month of April 2021. Regional Sports Confederations and other key stakeholders have been asked to make solidarity statements in order to promote awareness of Sport for development and Peace within the Region. These messages will be posted continually on the region 5 social media platforms as part of awareness building. Speaking on the significance of these commemorations, the Region 5 CEO, Mr Stanley Mutoya said “Peace is the primary goal of the global development community. It is a necessary condition for all development.” Mutoya went on to say, “Violent conflict quickly wipes out decades of development gains. As we commemorate the International Day for Sport Development and Peace, we must place emphasis on the important role of sport as a tool for development and peace”. While sport alone cannot prevent conflict or build peace, its power to contribute to broader more comprehensive peace building efforts is undisputed. Sport helps build relationships through strategic networking; connects individuals to communities through shared ritual identity and reintegration of ex-combatants including addressing war related trauma; is used as a communication tool and provides space for dialogue. Elite sport has been used to diffuse political tension. The “Ping Pong Diplomacy” between china and USA in 1971 is a classic example of the power of sport in reconciling nations and building harmonious relations. According to the United Nations, more recently, the term
“Cricket Diplomacy” has been used to describe the improvement to relations between India and Pakistan resulting from an informal invitation from Prime Minister Singh to General Musharraf to watch an international cricket match between the two nations. Sport also helps build human and social capital and in the process promoting peace and harmony among the people. BY aiding fitness, fostering health, enhancing mental health and wellbeing, reducing stress, anxiety and depression as well as fostering tolerance, cooperation, social skills and teamwork, sport helps build human capital. By creating social networks, producing active citizens, promoting community identity, enhancing coherence and promoting social integration, sport plays a direct role in building social capital. The Region invites all its stakeholders to take part in this month’s festivities by contributing via its online platforms as part of the commemorations of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace