“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.“ – Nelson Mandela
In Malaysia, volunteers and athletes from different ethnic and religious communities from around Malaysia came together on April 12th at the International Youth Center for a friendly football match focused on teamwork, leadership and peace. Dr. Teh Su Thye, CEO of GPF Malaysia said, “Sports has an amazing power, we just have to harness it.”
In Kenya, GPF– Kenya CEO, Daniel Juma addressed youth participants at the Sports for Peace match at Jericho-Lumumba sports ground on April 28th. He told the athletes, “When team members play well together there is harmony and great excitement. Players should challenge the world to share that joy, to join with them and make peace.”
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace was established by the United Nations in partnership with the International Olympic Committee to highlight the power of sports to establish peace and stability. Kenyan Olympian, Paul Tergat said, “Sports brings together even warring communities and brings peace.” April 6th was chosen for the international observance because it marks the official birth of the modern Olympic Games.
International Day of Sports for Peace and Development was the perfect platform for GPF to invest in youth development and bridge building through football. GPF Malaysia Intern, TinasheKitchen, a key organizer of the event said, “When I heard about this April 6th thing, I knew it was a way to inspire people the way football has inspired me.”
GPF– Malaysia has been empowering youth and creating social cohesion among the younger generation through Midnight Football. Midnight Football is a program built to teach youth values and habits for future success through football. The program has taken participants beyond the pitch to develop leadership skills through workshops and community service.
GPF-Kenya has worked with GPF-Korea and the International Sports and Peace Festival to provide soccer shoes and playing grounds for young football players through the Dream Bus program.
The camaraderie and accomplishment experienced by all players and volunteers was an active display of the power of sports to bring togetherness and empowerment. Richard Sully, National Coach at Maybank Berhad told the Sports for Peace players at the Malaysia event, “You are the leaders of tomorrow. If football doesn’t qualify that, football qualifies togetherness, love and peace.”