Boys playing football in the street Boys playing football in the street

Social development

1:0 – Sport opens up development opportunities

Sport builds self-confidence in young people – and teaches skills.

Sport inspires people all over the world. In countries such as Brazil, Namibia, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, sport is used as a tool to support children and young people and teach knowledge. Sport offers them a new feeling for life, builds self-confidence – and opens up prospects for the future.

Sport is a language spoken and understood all around the world: on a playing field, sport makes no distinction between age, background or religion. That’s why the United Nations has officially recognised sport as ‘a means to promote education, health, development and peace’. German development cooperation also uses sport to give disadvantaged children and young people support and teach them knowledge and social skills: through sport they learn to take responsibility, act fairly and resolve conflict by peaceful means.

Many sports – football in particular – require no expensive equipment and enjoy huge popularity among children and young people. For this reason the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been supporting activities in sports such as basketball, football, handball and judo in various partner countries since 2013. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), sport is used to promote awareness on issues such as vocational education, displacement and HIV prevention – and at the same time to build character in children and offer them prospects for the future. The programme has a particular focus on girls and young women.

Girls with headscarfs and boys playing football, mosque in background

A fun way to teach knowledge and skills

In Brazil, for example, GIZ worked with the non-governmental organisation Bola Pra Frente to develop ‘Treino Social’, an educational coaching handbook. This handbook demonstrates how sport can be used as a lively approach to teaching children and young people social skills and awareness on issues such as health, violence prevention, the environment and gender equality.

So far the programme has reached over 48,000 children and young people in Brazil. In addition, it has worked with the German Football Association (DFB) and Brazilian partner organisations to provide coaching to around 500 women and men from NGOs, schools, clubs and football schools, who now work as multipliers in social training.

From Brazil to Mozambique: South-South exchange

Following the success of the concept, Brazilian trainers travelled to Mozambique as part of a South-South exchange. There in East Africa, they trained around 30 lecturers, sports students and coaches, who were in turn able to pass on their knowledge to young people using the ‘Treino Social’ approach. The sports faculty at the Pedagogical University of Maputo now trains sports teachers and coaches in the methodology, which benefits children and young people in Maputo and a number of other regions in Mozambique.

Boy kicking football on sand field

Sport is also used in the Palestinian territories as a way of attracting young people into vocational education and training and improving their prospects on the labour market. At sports events, sports camps and vocational training camps, employers give presentations on a range of different professions. Young people are given an opportunity to try their hand at manual skills, for example, and find out more about various trades and jobs in one-on-one discussions at the information stands.

Stimulating sustainable development – worldwide

Experience in Brazil and the Palestinian territories shows that sport is a key instrument in development cooperation. Sport for development is now used in 16 countries worldwide, including Jordan, Colombia and Namibia.

In Namibia, for example, a centre for girls was built within the grounds of the Namibian Football Association in Windhoek. This facility offers a safe environment for girls and young women to play sport. There are also training opportunities in sustainable tourism and gastronomy. People from the local communities are also able to take part in evening courses on a range of subjects. In late 2016, for example, 19 young women successfully completed the first introductory course on hospitality. The internationally recognised course leaving certificate helps improve their prospects of finding a better job.


Last update: July 2017