International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is an important day to remember what sport is all about: bringing people together. It occurs annually every 6th of April and celebrates how sport for development can both save public money and improve life for our most disadvantaged communities. Sport for development is the use of sport in promoting positive social outcomes, such as improved physical and mental wellbeing, and employability. This is very much at the core of what The Harlequins Foundation does, its mission and passion of Building Brighter Futures.
This year in celebration of the day, the Sport for Development Coalition is launching its ‘Open Goal’ campaign, designed to showcase how its members support “the contribution of sport and physical activity to building a fairer, more equitable and sustainable future”. We at The Harlequins Foundation are very excited about this new campaign, as our Head of Foundation, Marc Leckie, is a member of the Coalition which brought it about.
He had this to say:
“It is so important that we kick start this initiative to ensure the whole nation is aware of the positive impact and contribution that sport and physical activity makes across multiple social outcomes. For too long the conversation has taken place amongst supporters of the power of sport, and it is now vital that we broaden this conversation to involve other stakeholders and decision-makers in other sections of our society.”
The ’Open Goal’ campaign was named to reflect how simple the solutions it offers should be, to the point that achieving them is akin to scoring an ‘open goal’. It was created in line with the government’s ‘levelling up’ paper detailing plans to “spread opportunity more equally across the UK” by the year 2030.
As one of the organisations represented by the Sport for Development Coalition, The Harlequins Foundation uses sport and our brand connection to open up pathways for young people that weren’t there before, contributing to the goals of the campaign through our support of marginalised young people in our community. The work being done by the ‘Open Goal’ campaign to outline the return on investment that sport-based interventions beings aligns perfectly with our own work to do the same through the Sport Value Bank (SportVB). This important work allows us to help more people, by proving the worth of social investment in our underdeveloped communities.
In a year of conflict and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we unite our communities and support our most vulnerable. Sport is one of the most important tools we have to achieve this; the UN says, “sport has the power to change the world; it is a fundamental right and a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and promote sustainable development and peace, as well as solidarity and respect for all.”
We at The Harlequins Foundation are incredibly excited to see how the ‘Open Goal’ campaign will help to support some of the most in-need communities across the UK, with thanks to our Head of Foundation, Marc Leckie, for his part in bringing the campaign about.