Sports have the great potential of promoting citizen values, regional integration, and social inclusion
If we talk about sports, probably Messi, Federer, Nairo Quintana, Phelps or Usain Bolt quickly come to mind. Maybe sports are also associated to happiness, passion, emotion, desire to overcome, and great deeds. Others will highlight the different types of violence involved in many great sports events, and the social problems these imply.
If we focus on more modest spheres, albeit surely more important, the practice of sports not only generates benefits for health but it can also be a powerful instrument for the teaching of citizen values and social inclusion of the most vulnerable.
In addition, today the regular practice of exercise is the most efficient way to fight the increasingly sedentary lifestyles that threaten the sustainability of public health systems, and promote individual physical and emotional wellbeing. Sports also play a very relevant role in the educational sphere, as it favors the development of individuals by promoting essential values for coexistence, dialogue, and integration.
In the case of soccer, for example, there are different modalities that promote educational, ludic, and recreational activities that are integrated for boys and girls that live under conditions of scarcity in environments of violence and crime. Such is the case of Colombianitos, an organization that uses sports to cover the basic needs of health and food, while at the same time promoting education through scholarships, uniforms, and school supplies.
Silvia Oteyza, Director of Social Sustainability at CAF, Development Bank of Latin America, states, "Sports, particularly soccer, is an effective instrument for the social inclusion of boys and girls in Latin America. It is an alternative for the use of free time with low cost ad high impact for youths threatened by drugs and violence, facilitating and stimulating the connection between different actors, and develops comprehensive human education models with the objective of achieving real changes among the children and their communities".
At an international level, the movement "Deporte para el Desarrollo" (Sports for Development) has an extensive methodological base and a wide platform of international, regional, and local organizations focused on contributing solutions to several of the main social problems of developing countries. Currently, it has become an effective means to educate, and a promoter of the improvement of the quality of life of children and youths who are at risk. It woud be desirable that this movement, which is aligned with the Sustainable Development Objectives, could become a public policy.