Sport bringing hope to young people in Zambia

Young people Zambia, A delegation led by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today concluded a visit to Lusaka, Zambia, where it visited the Olympic Youth Development Centre and other community projects in the area.

The delegation said it was pleased with the impact the centre – a pilot project established by the IOC in collaboration with International Federations and the local government – was having on young people in the region since its opening in 2010.

The IOC President and UN Secretary-General met young athletes during a tour of the centre, the first in a series of multi-sport facilities scheduled to be built in developing countries as part of the IOC’s Sport for Hope programme. The aim of the programme is to provide young people and communities in developing countries with opportunities to practise sport and receive education on the values of Olympism.

The Olympic Youth Development Centre has already been visited by thousands of athletes from Zambia and neighbouring countries. The facility includes synthetic football and hockey pitches, a running track, tennis courts, a boxing ring and multi-purpose areas that can accommodate sports such as basketball, handball, weightlifting, volleyball, judo and gymnastics.

The centre also offers a wide range of educational programmes, health services and community activities aimed at improving the quality of life in a country ravaged by HIV, poverty, crime and unemployment.

“This is my second visit to the Olympic Youth Development Centre and I am honoured by the presence of the UN Secretary-General – proof of the strong and increasing cooperation between the IOC and the United Nations,” said President Rogge. “Having met with some of the young athletes using the facilities here today, I can see firsthand how sport truly is bringing hope to the young people of Zambia and neighbouring countries. We look forward to replicating this in other parts of the world.

“This impressive centre goes beyond excellence in sport. It helps to educate young people about healthy positive lifestyles, literacy, life skills and gender empowerment,” said the UN Secretary-General. “All of us – the government of Zambia, the IOC and a wide range of UN agencies – are working as a team. Our goal is to make all the Zambian people winners.”

The IOC recently began work on the second Olympic Youth Development Centre in Port-au-Prince, in collaboration with the Haitian government and National Olympic Committee. The centre is scheduled to open in 2014.

The delegation also met young people from the Chiawa Game Management Area, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project, where IOC President Rogge made a financial donation on behalf of the Olympic Movement. The contribution will be put toward renovating the community’s football pitch and dressing room, and providing basic sports equipment.

The facilities will feature an information area designed to educate the community on pressing environmental issues in Zambia, such as forest management and biodiversity. The IOC chose the project because it advocates sustainable development among young people using sports development as a tool.

The delegation’s first stop of the day was at the Fountain of Hope centre in Kamwala, where UNICEF’s implementing partner, Sports in Action, is running a project focusing on the rehabilitation of street children and other young people through sport. The project offers formal education and health services using sport as a tool and is part of International Inspiration, the official international sports legacy programme of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The goal of International Inspiration is to enrich the lives of 12 million children in 20 countries by offering opportunities for physical education, sport and play, with all the benefits they bring, such as improved health and self-empowerment.

Other members of the delegation included IOC Vice President Thomas Bach, IOC Executive Board (EB) Member Sam Ramsamy, IOC EB Member Nawal El Moutawakel, IOC Member in Zambia Patrick Chamunda, and UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke.

The IOC obtained UN Observer status in 2009. Today, the IOC works with more than 20 UN agencies to build a better world through sport. The IOC is active in assisting the UN Member States achieve their Millennium Development Goals, which aim to make progress in eight priority areas: ending poverty and hunger; universal education; gender equality; child health; maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS; environmental sustainability; and global partnerships.

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