Athletics for Development project launched in Uganda

Sports can play a role in achieving development goals and supports children and young people in their development. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) have now kicked off a project in Uganda in cooperation with local partners that puts this approach into practice.

On 10 May 2018 the Athletics for Development project was officially launched by Uganda’s First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Kataaha Museveni, at the National Kids’ Athletics and Special Needs Learners Primary Schools Championships in Apac, Uganda, in the presence of more than 4.000 children and young people and numerous guests.

“Athletics when entrenched in Uganda society, especially among young people, is a practical and sustainable tool to promote cohesion and inclusion,” the Minister of Education and Sports said. “Traditional games also continue to define our rich cultural heritage through inherent movement abilities and salient life values and skills which form a backbone for holistic personal and national development.”

The event was also attended by Olympic and World fencing champion and Sport for Development Ambassador Britta Heidemann. “Being an athlete myself, I know how sport supports children and young people in their personal development. Sport teaches important values such as respect, team spirit and fair play. Furthermore, it brings together people of all walks of life, independent of their background, gender, or their abilities. That is why I actively support the Athletics for Development project in Uganda.”

Dr Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, is deeply committed to using sport as a tool in development cooperation. “Sport brings people together across ethnic, linguistic and cultural boundaries. It opens doors and offers us a way to reach out to disadvantaged children and youths, who otherwise would be difficult to reach. That is why the Athletics for Development project can make a valuable contribution to social development in Uganda.”

Athletics for Development in Uganda is being implemented by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the DOSB in cooperation with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the German Athletics Association (DLV) and the Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) and the Uganda Paralympic Committee (UPC) on behalf of the BMZ. The Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports, headed by the First Lady, has agreed to be the political project-executing agency.

By engaging disadvantaged children and young people in the athletic disciplines of running, jumping and throwing the project aims to support their personal development, enhance social cohesion in local communities and promote health, education and inclusion through sports activities. Based on the Kids’ Athletics Programme, which is run in more than 130 countries worldwide, a more development policy oriented approach will be drawn up over the next few months and trainers will be trained to design sports activities following the Athletics for Development approach. The development of local resources, sport material and structures and the integration of local traditional games are further aims of the project.

Alfons Hörmann, President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation: “Together with the BMZ we want to ensure that as many young people in Uganda as possible can benefit from the social and educational qualities of sport.”

The new project is met with much anticipation in Uganda. Numerous local media have covered the official launching ceremony, which was also attended by the German Ambassador to Uganda, Dr Albrecht Conze, and Ugandan Olympic and World Champion Stephen Kiprotich.

The project in Uganda is part of a broader cooperation agreement between BMZ and DOSB. Under the Sport for Development initiative BMZ, GIZ and DOSB are implementing projects to support children and young people in their development in developing countries and emerging economies.

The focus of these efforts is not only the positive health outcomes of physical exercise. It is about using sports as a tool to promote values such as respect, fair play and team spirit, to give incentives for education and make a contribution towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Sport activities are a good medium for promoting knowledge about peacebuilding, environmental protection, gender equality or health issues.

Germany has been using the Sports for Development approach in its development cooperation measures in 16 partner countries worldwide since 2013. Projects in cooperation with the DOSB are currently being run in Namibia, Jordan and Turkey.

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