1-0 to development

Sport motivates people the world over. On playing fields in countries as diverse as Brazil, Mozambique, Afghanistan and Colombia, sport is being used as a means of communicating knowledge and skills to children and young people. It gives them a new attitude to life, boosts their self-confidence and opens up prospects for the future.

Major events like the FIFA World Cup, the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games show that people all over the world understand the language of sport. The United Nations officially recognises sport ‘as a means of promoting education, health, development and peace’, and the importance of sport for achieving development objectives was once again underlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sport can be used to reach many different population groups and provide them with systematic support – and this potential is also harnessed in international cooperation.

Communicating knowledge and skills in a fun way

Many different sports, especially football, have a high profile and are very popular among children and young people. When linked to socio-educational approaches, sport can provide a stimulus for positive changes and sustainable development, anywhere in the world. Nelson Mandela understood this when he said, ‘Sport has the power to change the world.’ With this in mind, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been promoting sporting activities for socially disadvantaged children and youths in Brazil since 2013. It does so on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

For example, together with the non-governmental organisation Bola Pra Frente, GIZ has developed ‘Treino Social’, which uses sporting activities as a fun way to impart social skills in areas such as health, education, violence prevention, the environment and gender equality. During each training session, in addition to doing exercises that promote trust, cooperation and concentration, the children and young people are asked questions or given memory cards and tasks that get them to tackle one of these topics.


In a group discussion at the end of the session, the girls and boys reflect on the things they have experienced, and connect them to their everyday lives.

Some 300 women and men in non-governmental organisations, schools, societies and football academies across Brazil have already received training as multipliers for this method. The project has produced training materials for different age groups, and Brazil’s Ministry of Education now plans to integrate the approach into both school sports lessons and extracurricular activities.

A stimulus for sustainable development – worldwide

After the concept proved so successful, Brazilian trainers travelled to Mozambique in East Africa for a South-South exchange. They provided training for about 30 Mozambican university lecturers, sports students and trainers, who in turn can now use ‘Treino Social’ to share their knowledge with young people. The faculty of sport at the Teacher Training College in Maputo now also instructs sports teachers and trainers in the method. This will benefit children and young people, not only in Maputo but also in different regions of the country.

Such projects are not only happening in Mozambique and Brazil. The Sport for Development approach is catching on in a big way all around the world. At present, GIZ is running projects in 14 countries, including Namibia, Afghanistan and Colombia – using sport to encourage young people to develop their own future prospects.