What is the idea behind Sports for Peace? Sports for Peace was patterned after the United Nations program that promotes human rights and peace through sports initiatives.
In 2008, the Focolare sent me to Rome to attend a seminar on this, and when I got back, I thought it would be an opportune time to integrate it into our schools’ program.
What goal does it aim to achieve?
The project aims to encourage young people to develop a socially-oriented attitude in sports and games, and communicate to them a culture of fraternity and the spirit of togetherness, instead of a purely competitive and performance-oriented mentality in sports and games.
The bases of this project are patterns of behaviour in fair play, communication and interaction like playing honestly and abiding by the rules, offering help, mutual respect, being open to others, being able to listen to others, apologizing for acting unfairly, etc. Underlying this project is the “golden rule”—treating others as you yourself would like to be treated. So how are the games conducted? There are 6 rules for engaging in Sports for Peace.
- Play hard – Do your best
- Play fair – Be honest with yourself and with the others
- Hang-on – Don’t give up even when it is difficult
- Take care of – Respect everyone; everyone is important
- Celebrate – Enjoy the success of the others as much as your own
- Make a difference – Big aims we can only achieve together
We encourage our players to take these rules by heart so we can develop in them this culture of fraternity where everyone is a brother or a sister to one another.
What’s in it for them?
We don’t give trophies to the winners; instead, we instil in them the idea that the best award there is, win or lose, is the brother/sister they have won as a friend, so their trophy is a “friend.” We focus on the value of the time spent with these newfound friends and the experience of fraternity created together, rather than on the competition against an opponent.
What do the participants think of this?
We’ve been conducting the games yearly since 2010 and it has borne many fruits. The students in our schools always look forward to this event every year because of the opportunity to be together with their friends from other schools.
Every player strives to win the “Sport for Peace Award,” which is given to the player who wholeheartedly applies the six rules during the event. Also, each school aims for the “Sports for Peace Gold Medal Award,” for the school that endeavoured to make all of its players apply the six rules.
Moreover, throughout these games, the culture of fraternity among players, coaches and administrators is now developing.
What motivates you to keep this project going?
I know I can’t change the world, but in my little way, starting in my own community which is composed of the schools in the diocese, I have helped to sow the seeds of brotherhood and love. I hope that somehow our students, who have experienced this project, will then share it with others.
In this way, many of these seeds will be sown everywhere. I firmly believe that universal brotherhood is possible through sports.