How sports can help in the process of youth development through Olympism and its values
Featuring esteemed speakers from all across the globe, the Abhinav Bindra Foundation discussed ways on using sports to develop the youth and build a healthy community.
Perhaps the greatest wealth any nation can possess is its youth and it is incredibly crucial to know how to use this wealth carefully and mould the youth as sharp, bright individuals who will be able to lead the way towards a better tomorrow. Identifying sports as the most potent tool and the values of Olympism to be integral, the Abhinav Bindra Foundation (ABF) through their webinar, the fourth one in the ongoing series of 'Olympism and its values' deliberated on how sports can be used as a tool to promote youth development.
The fourth webinar, titled 'Sports for Youth Development: Values | Skills | Livelihood | Growth' saw esteemed panellists from different corners of the globe come together and wrack their brains and show the light towards a brighter future where sports can be used to bring about a change in the youth. Moderated very insightfully by Arka Bhattacharya, the Director of External Relations at the GITAM University, the webinar saw a keynote address being delivered by Dr. Stephan Wassong, who is a member of the IOC Olympic Education Commission, Executive and Academic Director of the Olympic Studies Centre at the German Sports University Cologne.
The keynote address was subsequently followed by a vibrant panel discussion on the various challenges and opportunities that prospectively lie ahead, especially in the context of a country like India. Featuring Dr. Ben Sanders, a senior consultant at the International Platform on Sport & Development and someone with the experience of having worked with organisations like the FIFA, the Commonwealth and United Nations, the session also had Hilla Davidov, a Ph.D. candidate in the Olympic Studies program at Köln University, the CEO of the International Catchball Federation and a key member of the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee alongside Ravi Nayse, the Vice President of the Skill & Entrepreneurship Development Institute (SEDI), an initiative by the Ambuja Cements Foundation aimed at training youth across rural India, enabling them to secure well-paid jobs in reputed companies.
Sports as a tool to prevent disorientation among the young
In all fairness, the period of adolescence and the great span of youth is largely a turbulent one which is often peppered by a series of distractions that can hinder the overall development of an individual. Pierre de Coubertin had stressed how the Olympic athlete is the ideal role model and the key values of Olympism which harps on Excellence, Friendship and Respect should work in tandem in creating this perfect individual who will be able to lead.
In fact, Coubertin believed that the Olympic Games serves as a rite of passage for a youngster to inculcate some of the best moral and social values in life through sport and in that process, transform into a mature and responsible individual of the society. In his keynote speech, Dr. Stephan Wassong explained in detail how this thought process worked and pointed out how ultimately through sport and physical activity, the demand is to create this responsible individual who can easily play a constructive role in the social fabric.
Dr. Wassong insisted that Olympism is not a panacea - the be-all and end-all of every problem in the world but rather, how imbibing the values laid down by Olympism can help in problem-solving in the future. Olympism has to be given a realistic chance and for that, a lot of awareness has to be created and it is through the help of the creation of a supporting environment nurtured by the IOC, the various study programmes, training programmes, foundations like the Abhinav Bindra Foundation that Olympism and its values can be passed on to create individuals who can cause an impact socially and most importantly, in a positive manner.
By keeping the youth engaged in physical activities and churning them out as individuals with values, they will be able to combat the myriad perilous distractions that plague their life with a different perspective as well.
The youth isn't the future only, it is the present also
With the keynote address setting the mood appropriately for the discussion that followed, the esteemed guest panellists engaged in a fruitful discussion about how sports can be used in a meaningful way and used to usher in change. All the panellists - Dr. Ben Sanders, Hilla Davidov and Ravi Nayse were in unanimous agreement to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a drastic change in sports development programmes as we would know it and several organizations fear for their survival in the present context.
However, the IOC along with the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) and other integral components of this framework of Olympism have also shown how even in this pandemic-stricken world, inculcating values of Olympism should be made mandatory by including the ideology both as a theoretical and practical approach.
While most limit themselves to saying that the youth are the future of a nation, in reality, they are also the present and for their development to take place, they need to play a functional role in its implementation and stay involved in the whole development project cycle. The panellists harped on the necessity of physical education to help the youngsters to combat the everyday challenges of life.
Ravi Nayse, who has been involved in a lot of work that involves the young and urban workforce, even school dropouts, mentioned that sports and the values of Olympism are the most trusted ways to get people involved in a more practice-oriented lifestyle and make them better individuals.
As stressed in the keynote address as well and later elaborated during the panel discussion, Olympism and its values are also great ways to learn life skills and that plays a crucial role in the shaping of individuals who in turn, form the backbone of a healthy, sound and mature and responsible community. Sports - with its diverse aspects, both physical and mental can act as a great tool for bringing about social change and transforming the society - the focus here is about participation rather than the competition, that will help in the process of moulding individuals embedded with Olympic values and who can make a difference in the future. And what better place and who better to start with than the youth?
[The Bridge, which is a dedicated platform for the regular coverage of Olympic sports, is the exclusive media partner of the Abhinav Bindra Foundation whose philosophy twins with promoting the Olympic spirit among people and encouraging the growth of the nation through sports.]