What is ‘Sports for Development’ and why we need it?

In simple terms ‘Sports for Development’ (S4D) could be defined as the use of sport in addressing complex sociopolitical issues such as education, poverty, social exclusion/inclusion, violent and non violent conflicts, post war and/or disaster trauma, gender justice, integrating marginalised groups, and juvenile delinquency among others.

United Nations (UN) acknowledges the ability of sports as a mean to promote education, health, development and peace, in particular and as a powerful and cost-effective way to advance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in general.

Significant contribution of sports towards “human development and peace-building” over many years led the UN General Assembly to adopt April 6th (starting 2014) as International Day of Sports for Development and Peace (IDSDP). The occasion was used to raise awareness of the potential of sport as a “catalyst to development and peace.”

Why we need Sports for Development?

S4D initiatives work at the community or grassroots level by bringing people together and working towards achieving same goal. These initiatives mostly engage children and young adults, who are the backbone of the human existence.

Regular physical activity is essential for the physical, mental, psychological and social well being of children and young adults. There are many independent research as well as organizational reports available which demonstrate that involvement in sport has lasting positive effects on children’s health, academic attendance/performance and helps reducing crime.

The physical and mental well being of the vast majority of children is directly proportional to the well being of our national and the international system. Therefore, apart from educating the children, as society, we also need to ensure that the children devote a fair amount of time playing outdoors.


The lessons that playing teaches, such as cooperation, tolerance, morality, discipline, respect, and coping skills are the lessons we require to address small issue of our daily lives as well as to address deep rooted challenges that our societies faces. Traditional responses to extreme sociopolitical challenges have not proved enough to break the vicious circle and bring people out of disadvantageous conditions.

This does not mean that sports alone could solve the range of issues our societies are facing. What it means is that consistent and uninterrupted use of sports along with its non-sport components in a positive and safe environment helps us address issues such as poverty, education, health, drug/alcohol abuse, and gender discrimination etc. in a much better way. Our complex problems requires innovative solutions and S4D initiatives are actually dealing with these in many creative ways.

Here is one of many such similar stories where sports has played a constructive role in transforming the life of a child. (Kusum Kumari Yuwa Jharkhand) Through football, Kusum, took control of her body, and thus, her life.

– rohit


An edited version of this post was published by the International Platform on Sport & Development.


About Over Game

Sports. Politics. Development. Peace.
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