• Written by Ricardo Wijngaarde
    5 December 2012

I was invited yesterday to the launch of  Sport for Development, along with Akvo’s Frodo van Oostveen and Eva van Rijen from the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a new programme that is initiated by a small and dedicated group of organisations sports personalities that are passionate about mobilising development opportunities all around the world. The Sport for Development programme has had a flying start thanks to how closely The Royal Dutch Soccer Association (KNVB) World Coaches, Right To Play, have joined forces together with NSA International to roll out this programme in eight countries.

Sport for Development is using Akvo Really Simple Reporting (RSR) to structure its projects online at a country level. Project partners will post status updates directly using the tool. We’ve already activated the Sport for Development partner site, which is featured in the website that was demonstrated yesterday to an audience of more than 50 attendees, including sporting names, and people from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Akvo will also train staff in the Netherlands and Kenya, on how to use RSR to best effect. We got a nice mention on stage – with the partner site and project pages being demoed to the audience.

Three-times Olympic medal winner and European champion Arnold Vanderlyde made an impressive entrance to grab the attendees’ immediate attention for his devotion to the programme. In his speech he emphasised the unique character of the programme and backed up his claim with an inspiring variety of examples such as losing the semi-final of the Olympic Boxing fight and how that brought his feet back to the ground.

What sets Sport for Development apart from other projects according to Vanderlyde is that it focuses on different continents simultaneously with an ambitious sports programme that includes specific “Peace enhancements targets” – capacity building, economic development and education especially amongst youth.

In Surinam the consortium has managed to build a network of local sports association ranging from Judo to Track and Field and tennis. In Burkina Faso they focus is on basketball, handball and boxing.

In Egypt the approach is slightly different in a sense that the Sport for Development programme makes a serious effort to connect the national sports associations amidst political unrest. He finished his speech by highlighting the projects in Kenya and Mali. The programme clearly sets out to establish that a Sport for Development programme has a deeper societal relevance in the sense that it emphasises the Peace process in these countries, Women empowerment and the capacity building that comes along with local and interregional competitions for the youth. On paper the programme looks pretty solid, but now it’s time for the various partners to translate their goals and key values into tangible result for end users. We look forward to helping make that happen. Our first workshop with the programme team kicks off in mid January. Follow the progress via the NSA International Facebookpage and feel free to give your feedback.

Ricardo Wijngaarde is a communications manager at Akvo, based in Amsterdam.