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The 4th Commonwealth Sports Development Conference, Glasgow August 12th-13th
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The 4th Commonwealth Sports Development Conference, Glasgow August 12th-13th

“Young people should be central to all levels of decision making in order to maximise the contribution of sport to youth empowerment and development”.

As an outcome of the conference participants’ agreed that this message must be communicated to the highest level of government and the international sport movement, amongst other stakeholders including Sport for Development organisations. The voice of over 300 participants from different Commonwealth and international organisations came together to develop the conference Participants’ Message. 

The participants representing various constituents including: ; Commonwealth Games Federation, Government and Government agencies, young people and youth leaders, athletes, national and international sports federations and sport for development organisations were united in resounding agreement that young people must be central to the decision making around sport as a tool for youth empowerment and development.

As a result, it is now clear that youth representation and more broadly youth governance needs to be reflected in all structures and elements of sport for development. The Commonwealth Youth SDP Working Group (CYSW) took part in the conference and are dedicated to advancing this agenda by disseminating the message to their wider networks. The group, made up of young leaders from across the regions of the Commonwealth regional representatives  are committed to using sport as a tool for development by advocating for it, educating about it and demonstrating an evidence base to support it.

 The ten members of the working group will each communicate the message to ten people and those ten people will share it to other people, contributing to a network supporting the agenda.

The coordinator, the Chair and two Vice Chairs undertook various roles across the Conference by facilitating workshops, panel discussions, and being part of the editorial group.

Vice Chair Samuel Musembi contributed to a panel discussion on ‘Youth Sport-the opportunity’ along with representatives from BILD Ghana, Scotland’s Young Peoples Sport Panel and Glasgow 2014. During the Young people and Youth Leaders session, Samuel noted that the key message centred on the importance of the inclusion of youth led approaches in Sport for Development programmes, and that it presents a sharing platform on how sports can be linked up to approach other social issues. Clare Barrell, Chair of the working group presented at a workshop on ‘Sporting Pathways for Young People’, which highlighted the potential issues and barriers for young people to participate in sport. Vice Chair Will Stone, co-facilitated a session on Athletes and how they can contribute to Sport for Development. Carl Konadu, the coordinator of the group co-facilitated a workshop on Government and Government agencies.

Participants’ unearthed many opinions and ideas as to how sport can improve its contribution to youth empowerment and development. Through the conference editorial group, further principles alongside the key message were collated. Recommendation were highlighted for sport for development stakeholders and as follows:

  • Ensure young people have the opportunity to participate in sport in a safe and healthy environment regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion or abilities.
  • Governments and organisations at all levels involved in sport should work together and share practice to ensure that programmes are effective, and have governance structures that enable accountability.
  • Physical education and sport should be delivered as a central part of the education system and reflected in the national curriculum. Physical literacy is as important as literacy and numeracy.
  • Parents, coaches, volunteers, schools and communities are key stakeholders and should be engaged in involving young people in sport.
  • Recognise and provide evidence that, when used appropriately, sport can be an effective tool to contribute to tackling wider social issues.
  • Policy, strategy and programmes are flexible and tailored to suit the individual needs of young people.
  • There should be clear sustainable progressive pathways to enable continued involvement and development in all aspects of sport

With the key message and wider contributions, the Commonwealth Youth SDP Working Group have actioned two specific tasks; to disseminate the message to wider networks and create operational links between organisations, the second action is to provide case study examples of organisations who currently have young people represented at all levels of decision making, in order to give other Sport for Development organisations best practice examples. 

This will lay basis to the groups’ vision ‘to be the leading and driving voice for youth in the Commonwealth towards promoting best practices for sport, development and peace in their respective societies.’

Samuel Musembi, Vice Chair Commonwealth Youth SDP Working Group

Carl Konadu, Coordinator Commonwealth Youth SDP Working Group. 

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