Rome (Italy). On 6 April 2021, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is celebrated, established by the UN in 2013. It is celebrated all over the world in memory of the inauguration of the first Olympic Games of the modern era, held in Athens (Greece ) on 6 April 1896.
The purpose of the day is to help raise awareness of the historical role of sports in pursuing development, peace, gender equality, and social integration. Sports makes it possible, in fact, to promote social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural, and political contexts and to spread fundamental ideals and values such as fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance, and justice, which contribute to peace.
The sporting analogy of ‘teamwork’ is at the center of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2021. The hashtag #OnlyTogether will we play again, recalls the role of sports and physical activity to help society in the recovery phase from the Covid-19 Pandemic. Sport as a cohesion factor can cross borders, challenge stereotypes, and improve physical and emotional health, generating hope. Sports institutions and organizations are called on to spread the message of equality and resilience that can help heal society.
To celebrate the day, on 6 April 2021, the World Health Organization, in collaboration with other United Nations agencies, promotes the Webinar “reINVENT & reBUILD – Systems for physical activity that are stronger, fairer, more inclusive for everyone”, which will deal with the importance of physical activity and sport for mental and physical health for people of all ages and the challenges and opportunities to reinvent and rebuild a stronger, fairer, and more inclusive sports system.
In the Salesian tradition, sport is a fundamental dimension in Don Bosco’s Preventive System for the integral education of the person and for transmitting human and Christian values. Sports is a “gym that educates to life”. In the courtyard, the environmental pedagogy is expressed with which Don Bosco transforms the vitality of young people into energies for good, so that they become “good Christians and honest citizens”. “I used that immoderate recreation to inculcate thoughts of religion in my students. To some, with a word in their ear, I recommended greater obedience and greater punctuality in the duties of their state” (Memories of the Oratory).
In an interview for the Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, Pope Francis speaks of the pedagogical-educational value of sport, the practice of which often arises in parish playgrounds: “The Church has always had a great interest in the world of sports. We can say that in sport, the Christian communities identified one of the most understandable grammars for speaking to young people. We think of Don Bosco and the Salesian oratories, but we think of all the parishes in the world, even and above all the poorest, where there is always a small field available to play and play sports. Through sport, young people are encouraged to give the best of themselves, to set themselves a goal to achieve, not to be discouraged, to collaborate in a group. It is a wonderful opportunity to share the pleasure of victory, the bitterness of a defeat, to get together and give your best”.
Sport is a universal language for promoting peace and transforming society: “The values of sport are values of universality and harmony, based on the concepts of respect, understanding, integration, and dialogue, and contributes to the development and fulfillment of individuals, regardless of age, sex, origins, beliefs, and opinions”, said Audrey Azoulay, Director General of Unesco (United Nations Organization for Education, Science, and Culture).