Famous athletes should promote social development

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Civil society organisations should engage more in social development actions through sports, argues former UNESCO official Marie José Lallart in an interview with the November 2007 Sport et Citoyenneté journal. She is a member of the organisation’s scientific committee. 

She added that whenever possible these actions should be taken in cooperation with famous sportsmen. 

Lallart describes her numerous experiences in this field and gives examples of her intervention in Africa and Brazil. She particularly explains how she eliminated illiteracy there in coordination with well-known athletes. 

The Lebanon war constitutes a good illustration of her social development objective through sports. After the war, a programme of reunification was set up to support the population, which was achieved with the UNESCO’s help, reports the paper. Lallart emphasises that ” for the first time sports was used as a means to support and reunite a population that was torn,” thus reflecting her fight to promote social development. 

Together Lallart and French footballer Mikaël Silvestre created the “Schools of Hope” project, which aims to eliminate children’s illiteracy in developing countries and post-conflict situations. 

She underlined that these centres include sports fields thus “considerably helping” children’s state of health. She believes “sports can play a concrete role” when it comes to arbitration, being “an excellent education of life”. 

The point of creating these schools is to enable these children to become independent by training them for a job. 

She points out the UNESCO plays an important part in these operations, ensuring they function properly under the framework of the ‘Espérance et Solidarité autour d’un ballon’  programme. 

In order to improve coordination and efficiency on the ground, she suggests creating different centres to deal with various social operations, such as one to fight malaria and another to combat social exclusion. The centres would involve the participation of several athletes co-working with associations. 

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