The first global conference on ‘Sport in the Service of Humanity’ took place at the Vatican last month, with 100 guests invited to discuss how sport can be used to enrich lives worldwide.
Rev. Andy Bowerman, Co-Executive Director at the Anglican Alliance, attended the three-day conference alongside athletes, coaches, managers and corporate sponsors. Experts in areas such as sport medicine, psychology and education also joined the discussion. The conference organisers hope to foster a worldwide movement that will enrich lives by helping people to build trust and learn cooperation, foster friendship, live healthy lives, and have fun through sport.
Andy said, “Sport has the power to teach positive values and enrich lives, everyone who plays, organises and supports sport, has the opportunity to be transformed by it and to transform others. There are many co-relations with faith, in the belief that transformation is possible for everyone no matter where they are or what circumstances they find themselves in.”
In an opening ceremony, Pope Francis said, “We have a responsibility to help and share sports benefits. I wish to encourage all of you – institutions, sporting societies, educational and social organisations, religious communities – to work together to ensure the most vulnerable children can take up sport in circumstances of dignity, especially those who are excluded due to poverty, war or hunger.”
The opening ceremony also featured speeches from United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. The conference was organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture with the cooperation of the UN and the IOC, and with the support of SSH Founding Partner Allianz.
Since the conference the Anglican Alliance has made plans to engage with the Premier League, UNHCR and other ecumenical partners to seek to strengthen responses to the refugee crisis – in Europe and throughout the Middle East and East Africa – using football as a tool.
The aim of the conference was to unite people from every faith, nationality and culture through sport, with one goal: to help those who have the most need, especially the marginalised and the disadvantaged, and to encourage everyone to develop life skills, character, common values, and increase their capacity for the enjoyment of life itself.
Participants had a common commitment to the idea that sport has the power to celebrate our common humanity, regardless of faith, race, culture, beliefs, gender and ability. A statement from the conference reads: “Sport can bring us together – to meet one another across borders and boundaries, to learn to compete as friends, to respect and trust one another even in opposition.”
You can read the full statement below.
STATEMENT FROM THE CONFERENCE
Sport has the power to celebrate our common humanity, regardless of faith, race, culture, beliefs, gender and ability.
Sport can bring us together – to meet one another across borders and boundaries, to learn to compete as friends, to respect and trust one another even in opposition.
Sport has the power to teach positive values and enrich lives. Every one of us, who plays, organises and supports sport, has the opportunity to be transformed by it and to transform others.
Many people are deprived of sport through lack of opportunity, prejudice, or vested interest. We have a responsibility to help and share its benefits.
Sport challenges us to stretch ourselves further than we thought possible.
Sport can be distorted if we lose sight of the sheer joy it brings us.
While we strive for excellence in sport, it is more important to aim for excellence as human beings.
DECLARATION OF 6 KEY PRINCIPLES
USE THE POWER OF SPORT TO HELP OTHERS
Share the benefits of sport to empower those who are poor and disadvantaged.
USE SPORT TO BUILD TRUST AND UNDERSTANDING
Respect your opponents. Through sport understand them and their culture more deeply. Condemn violence in sport – on and off the field of play.
SPORT IS FOR ALL
Do all you can to help everyone take part in sport. Do all you can to enable everyone to compete on equal terms.
SPORT HAS THE POWER TO TRANSFORM LIVES AND BUILD CHARACTER
Learn graciousness in victory and perspective in defeat. Apply the values you learn in sport to help you excel in life.
SPORT HAS THE POWER TO HELP US MAKE THE MOST OF OURSELVES
So play it in the knowledge that it can revitalise you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. At every stage of life, play for fun, for health, for friendship.
SPORT, ABOVE ALL, IS ABOUT ENJOYMENT
So enjoy it! And remember, there is more to sport than winning, but when you compete, be and do the best you can, always.