April 6 is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace: IDSDP, set by the United Nations. As we, S.C.P. Japan, aim to build more inclusive societies through sport, we hosted a special webinar to celebrate this occasion.
We held a panel discussion on “Sport for Development and Peace: Demand and Potential for Specialists in the Field”. We welcomed our distinguished panelists; Mr. Taku Yamaguchi, Assistant Professor of the University of Tsukuba, who runs the International Development and Peace through Sport (IDS) course from the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, Ms. Mai Sakaguchi and Ms. Kaho Shinohara, a graduate and faculty staff of the IDS course at the University of Tsukuba who are now working as Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) specialists tackling social issues through sport. Ms. Inoue, who is a co-director and founder of S.C.P. Japan, also working as a methodological coordinator of the Barca Foundation Japan project, joined the panel, while Ms. Noguchi, another co-director and founder of S.C.P. Japan facilitated the discussion.
Discussion topics included case studies of SDP, its potential for further development and the importance of nurturing the next generation of SDP specialists.
【Comments from the Panelists on SDP Specialist】
“I think a SDP specialist is someone who understands both strengths and weaknesses of sport. They know the limit of sport when they use it as a practical tool to solve social issues. Many people are involved in SDP by different capacities, such as volunteers, project workers, people working with funding etc. In future, what we need is people with leadership skills, who can lead these various members working in various roles as a team.
In Japan, we have traditions that are very much in line with the concept of SDP. For example, Kendo has historically been used as an educational system for youth development. Or local festivals have always been the social occasion to bond the community. We don’t necessarily need to invent something new. We can redefine and add a new meaning to existing activities. We can also bring good practices from overseas.”
(Mr. Taku Yamaguchi, Assistant Professor of the University of Tsukuba, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences)
“Sport can be useful to tackle various social issues such as gender and health. But we need to bear in mind that the same issue can be interpreted very differently, depending on where you are, which countries, geopolitical areas and so on. Therefore, sport should be applied accordingly based on the specific social context. At the University of Tsukuba, I had an opportunity to learn the systematic framework of how sport can contribute to solving social issues by analysing numerous cases, as well as valuable lessons from the past SDP programmes. I think that if professionals, armed with the systematic knowledge of SDP, can expand their careers into other fields, bringing their expertise with them, it would be truly beneficial for the society. We must first recognise the challenges that Japan is facing now, then critically think how sport can be applied to solve them and then take an action based on the analysis. These steps are very important.”
(Ms. Mai Sakaguchi, Program Officer, Department of Information & International Relations, Japan Sport Council)
“Think globally, act locally” That was my thinking when I changed my job, from previously working for an international sporting organisation based in Germany to my current role in Laureus Sport for Good. I am overseeing funding for domestic social projects through sport and we measure and analyse Japanese sport policy and needs, as well as the effectiveness of these projects. For me, a SDP specialist is someone who can spot the societal value of sport, who can create the link between the society and sport. Internationally, the West has been the dominant force in the world of sport but we need the next generation of talent who can understand and globally communicate the unique edge of the East and Japan.”
(Ms. Kaho Shinohara, Programmes and Grants Manager, Laureus Sport for Good)
“Through my postgraduate study at the University of Tsukuba, I have learnt the importance of understanding the weakness of sport with an eye for objectivity. I am currently working on the issue of social inclusion of Japanese youth through S.C.P. Japan. It is very important to first understand that all communities are unique and there are many definitions of social inclusion. Then we can start thinking about and discussing how we can create an environment where children can feel safe and comfortable.”
(Ms. Yuiko Inoue, Co-Director of S.C.P.Japan, Barça Foundation Local Coordinator of Japan Project)
After the panel discussion, we had a Q&A session with the participants and we also discussed a relationship between sport and foreign diplomacy, coaching, environment etc.
At the end of the webinar, we participated in #WhiteCard, an initiative to show one’s commitment for peace effort around the world through sport, started by an SDP organisation Peace and Sport who are based in Monaco. All participants held up a white card for a photo shoot, in a gesture to demonstrate our support for the peace through sport movement.
We didn’t have enough time to cover everything and it was clear that there was much more to discuss. Please be assured that we will be planning a following session on the subject soon.
One of S.C.P. Japan’s missions is to develop young practitioners who can use sport for social inclusion. Therefore, we are very pleased to have had this opportunity to invite professionals who are already involved in SDP in academia and hands-on projects. We sincerely hope that more discussions like this will be held and create further opportunities to build a bridge between the society and sport.
We would like to thank all 51 participants who are working in the field of sport, studying in the sport and development courses, coaches, teachers and other professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Finally, we would like to give our special thanks to all panelists who have kindly accepted our invitation, all volunteer staff as well as sign language translators who made this webinar possible. We could not have done this without you!