World leaders, sports stars, global brands, CEO’s, clubs and federations joined some of the most inspiring sport for social change organisations and influencers for the final day of the Beyond Sport Summit, to determine how sport can be used to bridge the severe cultural and economic divides currently dominating world affairs.
The finale of the Beyond Sport Summit & Awards 2015 kicked off with UK President of UNICEF Lord Ashdown, Rugby World Cup winning captain Francois Pienaar, the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama and SOAS University of London Director Baroness Valerie Amos, moderated by writer and strategist, Alastair Campbell, discussing the comprehensive impact sport can have across a wide range of social issues including extremism, economic instability and environmental crisis.
Francois Pienaar commented: “Sport deals in hope. It galvanises and brings communities together. The Rugby World Cup 1995 in South Africa was a very special moment but even that documentation cannot tell the story of how powerful sport is. It changed people in South Africa and gave people hope. In the end it comes down to leadership; what leaders will do to embrace sport to create a powerful source for social change."
Speaking on UNICEF’s work in light of the current refugee crisis Lord Ashdown said how they are “using sport extremely imaginatively and highly effectively in the refugee camps in Jordan.” Testifying to its power he added: “Sport enables healthy competition between human beings providing an alternative dynamic that can help build peace. Sport elevates your humanity, a person is judged on their ability as a human being - not on the colour of their skin or religion.”
TIME, Dell, Barclays, Jaguar Land Rover and One Young World explored the role business must play in addressing social and political challenges where sport is leading the way. One Young World Co-Founder Kate Robertson said corporate involvement had to be genuine and the most likely source to drive the agenda would be from young talent in the industry. Jonathan Garrett, CSR Director at Jaguar Land Rover confirmed the importance of social responsibility in the business world stating “What you do in business to grow and be profitable has to reach social and sustainable goals.”
Shifting from a global perspective to a local perspective, the afternoon sessions focused on sport at community level and how it can trigger a resolution to the escalating conflicts in local communities around the world. Boxing legend Barry McGuigan gave a passionate account of how the sport enabled him to transcend the religious divide in Ireland.
The importance of providing sport at a community level was reinforced with the announcement that Beyond Sport, in partnership with Sport Court, would be building a new sports facility in Lewisham with the help of the Phoenix Community. The court will provide a safe space for disengaged young people to play and enhance their sporting opportunities.
Simon Cooper, Head of Sport Unit, Mayor of London’s office said: "Areas like this can have a huge impact just by bringing people together and making sure they can do something positive with their time. The more sport areas we have in London the better, and this refurbishment will certainly have a huge impact."
Away from the main stage, with the support of DFID, UNICEF and other major contributors, Beyond Sport launched the first-ever Refugee Sport Initiative. Decision-makers from development and inter-governmental entities, businesses, sports clubs and governing bodies, and grassroots organisations working with refugees and displaced people, discussed how sport could be applied to alleviate the current crisis.
The key outcomes and final recommendations were reported back to the main room during the closing remarks of the day with Beyond Sport Founder and CEO, Nick Keller summarising: “It is clear to tackle the current issues dividing the world we need a renewed energy and to seek greater collaboration. The lessons we have shared and learnt over the past three days show sport has a distinct role to play in rebuilding communities, reducing ignorance and empowering people to go beyond the divide.”
Beyond Sport Awards 2015
Inspirational organisations using sport to create change were recognised for their pioneering contribution through sport on Tuesday night at the Beyond Sport Awards.
Winners included Waves for Change with the Sport for Health Award for their work using surfing as a form of therapy for children in townships in South Africa; Fiji Volleyball Federation picked up the Sport Federation Governing Body of the Year for tackling obesity within indigenous communities and Figure Skating in Harlem, received the Sport for Education Award for combining educational support and leadership training with figure skating for girls facing generational poverty.