SPORTS are all forms of physical activities that contribute to fitness, mental well-being and social interaction. They include play, recreation, organized casual or competitive sports as well as indigenous sports and games.
By their very nature, sports essentially denote participation. They are about inclusion and citizenship. Sports activities bring individuals and communities together, highlighting commonalities and bridging cultural or ethnic divides.
The easy and inherent ability of sports to bring people together make them a powerful communication tool.
Sports provide a forum to learn skills such as discipline, confidence and leadership and core principles such as acceptance, cooperation and respect. Sports expound the value of effort and how to manage victory as well as defeat.
The fundamental elements of sports make them a viable and practical tool to support the achievement of nation development. Taking part in activities will also help reduce the likelihood of many diseases arising from a sedentary and inactive lifestyle.
Sports programmers are effective tools for social mobilization, supporting health activities and they can provide employment and contribute to local development. They encourage volunteerism and can be utilized to spearhead non-governmental changes and transformation initiatives.
Sports can cut across barriers that divide societies, making them a powerful tool to support conflict prevention and peace-building efforts. When applied effectively, sports programmers promote social integration and foster tolerance help reduce tension and generate dialogue.
The concept of “Sports for All” is central to the understanding of sports. This concept aims to maximize access to and participation in appropriate forms of physical activities. Emphasis is placed on participation and accessibility for all groups in society regardless of gender, age, ability or race.
Many of the core values inherent in sports are compatible with the principles necessary for development and peace, such as fair play, cooperation, sharing and respect.
The life skills learned through sports help empower individuals and enhance psycho-social well-being such as increased resilience, self-esteem and connection with others.
These features of sports are beneficial to people of all ages but they are especially vital to the healthy development of young people who will inherit positions of power and responsibility in government organizations.
More than stimulating economic growth, effectively designed sports programmer strengthen basic human capabilities, create connections between individuals and teach core values and life skills.
They are valuable tools to initiate social development and improve social cohesion, especially when implemented among young people.
When social and personal skills are combined, sports can be an effective medium to intervene in a person’s ability to decide whether to abuse or not abuse drugs.
This is especially true when elements of sports are combined with mechanisms and structures providing drug-related information and life-skills training.
Factors that contribute to young people turning to crime include the absence of positive role models, a lack of self-discipline and boredom.
Sports can tackle causes of juvenile crime by helping youths make positive connections with adults and their peers, by integrating them into constructive activities within society and by providing useful activities.
Sports can be an effective tool for empowering girls and women, given that they are often excluded from participation and from enjoying its physical and psycho-social benefits.
By directly challenging and dispelling misperception about women’s capabilities, integrated sports programmers help to reduce discrimination and widen women’s role.
Sports can integrate persons with disabilities into society, providing an arena for positive social interaction, reducing isolation and breaking down prejudices. Sports programmers for the disabled are also cost-effective methods of rehabilitation.
They are highly therapeutic, improving motor skills and increasing mobility, self-sufficiency and self-confidence.
Sports have been bringing people from all over the world together since the first Olympics in Greece. Sports bring people a sense of accomplishment but more importantly, unity.
When playing a sport, you have to be able to communicate with team members and coaches. If you are playing the sport by yourself, chances are you have a coach by your side. Communication is extremely important when it comes to unity.
It allows you to tell other players or the coach what is going on in a particular situation to improve and obtain better results.
In a team setting, you know your team is united when there is trust on the field or in the court. You have to be able to trust that your teammate will make that important catch or trust in your teammate to score the winning basket in the championship.
You may have a super star on your team but the lack of communication among players and the super star would be costly. The team has lost the game before it started because without trust, talent means nothing. Trust brings unity and is the key to winning games.
We have witnessed the extent and far-reaching consequences of participation in sports to the individual, community, organization, institution and the nation.
The benefits are indeed tremendous and ideally sports can extend to previously unchartered territories of endeavors and manage human conflicts. Sports will continue to serve human development.
DATUK MOHD YASIN MOHD SALLEH
3 APRIL 2010.