The UN General Assembly in 2013 declared 06 April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) and has been celebrating this day annually since 2014. This seems like an extra important year to be focusing on peace with what is going on in the World. This year like in the past, and within the framework of the Integrated Physical Education and School Sport (IPESS) Policy and Sport4Development, Namibia will join the rest of the world to mark the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). This year the sporting event will be celebrated at the Paresis Stadium is located at Otjiwarongo.
Whenever I think of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), it makes me think of a story I was told about the First World War which lasted from 1914-to 1918, and the Christmas truce. It is regarded as a historical fact that during Christmas 1914 – the first Christmas of the First World War, a widespread ceasefire took place across the Western Front in Europe. After five months of fighting, hostilities halted, French, German and British soldiers laid down their arms, crossed trenches, and met in no man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to talk, exchange gifts and take photographs. The most memorable aspect was that it seems a fully-fledged football match taking place between the British and German soldiers. No fighting, no killing, no killing that Christmas, just a football match taking place in one of the most unlikely locations and at the most unexpected time. It is a poignant and important story and demonstrates what can be achieved through sports and the power that it yields.
We as stakeholders work together with UNESCO, UNICEF, and the GIZ ‘Sport for Development in Africa’ regional project and our Ministries to promote sports, good health, and camaraderie. If only could have people focus on sports, rather than conflict we would be able to develop ourselves, our children’s futures, and society much more rapidly. Our Ministry of Sports Youth and National Service will on April 6th be bringing the message of Peace and sports to Otjiwarongo.
We can learn so much from each other and can only do so if there is no conflict. That is why the UN created the IDSDP. It used to be the case during the ancient Greek Olympiads, that rival factions would lay down arms during the days of the Games. Allowing Sports and Peace to prosper for a few days, whilst athletes competed. It is my sincere hope that we can come together as a nation, not just on April 6th, but throughout the year, and embrace sports and peace in all its forms. Allowing ourselves as a nation to continue to develop and create a safe, nurturing, and healthy environment for our children to play sports.
To this end, I invite you to join us across Namibia in sporting activities and bask in the glow of the peace that we enjoy in Namibia and the sports that we can play. Please join us in the sporting activities and the promotion of peace.