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“Sport is about creating a sense of community and common purpose”
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“Sport is about creating a sense of community and common purpose”

On 25 July, governments will meet in London to consider how sport can contribute to advancing vital development goals. The 6th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting will review how all types of games can address social and economic challenges and promote global public health.

But why is sport so important for national development? According to Tamara McKayle, 22, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Jamaica, it is a tool for peace, cooperation and advancement, and helps to unite her home nation.

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan once said, “Sport is a universal language. At its best it can bring people together, no matter what their origin, background, religious beliefs or economic status.”

At the heart of development is people and this is the essence of sports. People in sports creating teams, forging ties and helping to shape society positively. Coming from a nation that places great emphasis on sports with the likes of world athletic champions Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and many others, sport is indeed a prevalent, dominant force in our nation, society and world.

Jamaica is synonymous around the world as a tourism mecca for many. Its rich culture and music: think Bob Marley ‘One Love’ and its white, sandy beaches. However many of us know the dark side of this country – the crime and violence that berates us and cripples the fabric of our society is negative, even depressing.

Despite this however, sport has been the unifying force. It’s amazing how after each victory in athletics, football, netball, cricket, and more, the nation rallies together to celebrate, to sing, to laugh, to hug, and, in that moment in time, is united for solidarity and peace.

The question is… how can we capture and use those moments in time to create what we consider to be development? The improvement of standards of living, educational access, infrastructural headways, and more? How can sport be utilized in helping to achieve some of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals? These are indeed vital questions to consider.

After the performances and the medals, at the helm of sport is indeed development. It’s about taking those lessons that we have learnt of unity, good values, team work, and healthy competition, and using that to create a sense of community and common purpose towards attaining high ideals and standards for our communities, our nations and our world.

By teaching our children and youth such lessons through sports from a tender age, we all can be confident that for generations to come, our men and women will be following the positive trail that we have trodden to impact the world in which we live.

Sports no doubt have a major role to play in developing and shaping our nations by creating positive linkages with persons in our community, schools and youth clubs, the media, private sector and public sector bodies, NGOs and other local, regional and international bodies as a tool for peace, cooperation and advancement.

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About me:

I am a Jamaica Youth Ambassador for Disabilities; a television host/journalist and final year undergraduate in Media and Communications at U.W.I Mona.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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