Boys playing football in the street

Social development: Achieving more together with Sport for Development

From Indonesia to the West Balkans, young people are sharing social experiences that go far beyond the realm of sport.

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Achieving more together with Sport for Development

For international cooperation, sport is much more than a leisure activity. Across the globe, sports programmes support children and young people in exploring topics such as education, health and violence prevention. This helps them to find playful solutions to complex challenges.

Sport is a real all-rounder. It teaches positive values, promotes a healthy lifestyle and opens up opportunities for school and work. It also transcends cultural borders to bring people together. Nelson Mandela once even said that sport had ‘the power to change the world’. Using sport as a specific tool for development cooperation is therefore successful and effective. 

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is using sport to open up prospects for the future on the basis of this conviction, because sport can, in particular, reach children and young people growing up in developing countries who have faced challenging circumstances all their lives.

Girls with headscarfs and boys playing football, mosque in background

Sport has an impact in many areas and through partnerships

Sport motivates young people to be open to topics such as education and health, but also to violence prevention, gender equality and personal development and to ut this into practice in a fun way. This approach has already been used to successfully launch and implement 50 projects in 37 countries. More than a million children and young people are now benefiting from Sport for Development in lessons and sports facilities in South America, Africa, the West Balkans, the Middle East and South-East Asia. 

Sport thus has an impact on many areas of development cooperation and is therefore instrumental in helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of the 2030 Agenda, it positively impacts seven of the 17 SDGs. 

For this reason, the approach is being extended sustainably and effectively, for example to include private-sector companies. The project also has high-profile partners such as the German Football Association (DFB), the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and the German Sport University Cologne, who are providing support through expertise, a strong public image and access to competent trainers and specialist knowledge. 

Boy kicking football on sand field

Sport for Development: specific measures at local level

The current priority areas include the partner countries Indonesia, Colombia, Morocco, Tunisia, Uganda and the West Balkans:

In Colombia, the focus is on the peaceful resolution of conflicts, violence prevention and reintegration of internally displaced persons. A specially developed manual is being used there to promote social reconciliation through sport. A total of 1,500 trainers and social workers have been trained to date, who in turn have reached around 90,000 children and young people. 

A first group of trainers have just completed their training in Morocco. They specialise in basketball, football and martial arts and come from communities with a particularly high proportion of migrants. The project is teaming up with local partners to help migrants, refugees and Moroccan returnees gain access to integration services.

In Uganda, the focus is on athletics. The project there supports disadvantaged children and young people in disciplines such as running, jumping and throwing and in traditional sports. The trainers address topics such as life skills, health and social cohesion. Particular attention is devoted to children and young people with disabilities. 

In the West Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia), sport is used as a social learning environment to promote understanding between neighbours. The project has joined forces with teachers, trainers and other multipliers to develop the relevant skills among young people and to examine the topic of social cohesion with them. 

In order to integrate Sport for Development on a broader scale in the partner countries of German development cooperation, the project also responds to requests for advice from interested development cooperation projects and sport partners in countries other than the priority countries mentioned above.

Last updated: April 2020

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