Celebrating International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

The Hockey Foundation joins the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee, and all sports organizations around the world in celebrating the annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace! (Follow @IDSDP on Twitter)

Marking the opening of the modern Olympic Games in 1896, every April 6th sees the globe recognize the power of sport in bridging cultural understanding and development. Physical and economic health, education, social harmony and empowerment are just some facets of what's at the root of this day.

Like many organizations that work with communities to provide life-enriching access to sports, The Hockey Foundation strives to support and inspire a host of Sustainable Development Goals as put forth by the United Nations. These goals are a real pursuit over the next 15 years of social progress, which, as history has shown, can partly be achieved through the conduit that is sports. If there is anything that our time skating and teaching in the Himalayas and other parts of India has taught, it's that this great game strikes a chord few others do in helping young people grow.

We at The Hockey Foundation, via our core mission and the experience gained from seven years of executing it, are addressing each of these challenging Sustainable Development Goals in the following ways: 

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Sport can be used as a means to teach and practice transferable social, employment and life skills that can lead to well-being, economic participation, productivity and resilience.

  • THF is working to build an economy around ice hockey in regions where none previously existed, such as supporting arenas, import/distribution of equipment, and hiring of local coaches

2. End hunger, achieve food securty and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Sport programmes associated to nutrition and agriculture can be a suitable complement for food programmes tackling hunger and education on this subject. Beneficiaries can be taught about and encouraged to engage in sustainable food production and balanced diets.

  • THF's program in Ladakh brings us in close proximity with a region that is reliant upon subsidies for a well-balanced diet, but they are also undergoing the early stages of turning their local crops into more sustainable goods (like utilizing apricots to make jam, oil, scrub, soap, etc), and we have developed relationships with a number of these young entrepreneurs to offer advice and support in whatever ways possible.  We also bond over the sharing of recipes (even pizza!) from our respective cultures and have made dishes for one another that can add to a more balanced diet.  

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Physical activity and sport are key components of active lifestyles and mental well-being; they can contribute to prevent risks such as non-communicable diseases, as well as serve as a tool for education on sexual, reproductive and other health issues.

  • Not only do we provide coaching in a sport that requires incredible agility, endurance, and coordination, but we also have held classes that have specifically been about education on sexual, reproductive and other health issues (Winter 2014 in Changtang Region, Eastern Ladakh)

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Physical education and sport activities can enhance enrollment in formal education systems, school attendance and academic performance among school-aged population. Sport-based programs can also offer a platform for learning opportunities beyond primary and secondary schooling, and for the acquisition of skills transferable to the workplace and to social life.

  • This is a significant aspect of what we do.  Beyond the obvious aspects of hockey being a physical activity, we also provide off-ice coaching during some of our training programs, and have partnered with many schools to both instruct their students in ice hockey and also provide additional educational support via classroom sessions (held in English) and book donation.  We also preach the value of a good education to be a good athlete.

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Gender equality and changes in norms and attitudes towards it can be promoted in sport contexts, where sport-based initiatives and programmes have the potential to equip women and girls with knowledge and skills that allow them to progress in society.

  • Gender equality and empowerment for girls/women is a huge aspect of why The Hockey Foundation exists, based on our founder Adam Sherlip's personal background playing hockey on LI (his high school team had the most girls in Suffolk County and were champions) and his work with Angela Ruggiero during his tenure with the New York Islanders.  Every coaching clinic we provide comes with a demand and expectation that there will be girls participating, and proof of our success is in the fact that after seven years of coaching ice hockey in India, there were finally enough young women playing there to form a national team, which just competed in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in Taipei.  Our support of girls hockey in India has also contributed to the founding of the Ladakh Women's Hockey Foundation last year, which THF donated to and supports.

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Sport can be an effective educational platform for disseminating messages on water sanitation requirements and management. Sport-based programmes can target improvements in water availability by associating its activities and intended outcomes with this subject.

  • This isn't something that applies to us in Ladakh, as they have pure spring water, and they have experience to provide other parts of the world in regards to composting of human waste, but as we expand to other communities around the world, we'd look to partner with organizations that specialize in either of these areas to support community development.

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Sport programmes and activities can support initiatives aiming at the development of energy provision systems and access to them, being used as forums for discussion and promotion of energy efficiency.

  • Ice hockey is an energy intensive sport that requires a lot of resources.  We are reaching out to a number of companies across industries to help off-set the burden of building full-sized hockey arenas, tapping into renewable energy in ways that many facilities do not do (often because they were built in a time when those options were too expensive).  Beyond the large facilities, we have partnered with portable solar power companies in the past to donate panels and batteries to schools in Ladakh when all-day electricity was needed (no longer a major issue in the region since a new power plant opened).  We will continue to pursue partnerships like this to help support community development.

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Production, labor market and vocational training in the sport industry and business offer opportunities for employ-ability enhancement and employment, including those for vulnerable groups such as women and people with disabilities. In this framework, sport motivates mobilization of the wider community and growth of economic activities associated with sports.

  • Our sustained support of ice hockey in India has gotten it to the point where investors are interested in opening facilities that will require skilled labor to construct and operate, as well as provide opportunities for new coaches, equipment importation/distribution, and the formation of local and national leagues as well as the ability to host international competition.  The Hockey Foundation brought a team of specialists to India to assist in these aspects in order to help build a sustainable micro-economy around ice hockey in India, and will work to replicate this in other countries.

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Resilience and industrialization needs can benefit from sport-based initiatives that aim at development goals in this context, such as post-disaster reconstruction of facilities for sport and leisure. Sport has been recognized and effectively used as an innovative means to promote development and peace complementing other conventional tools in development efforts.

  • There's one Olympic-sized ice rink in all of India, and some small rinks inside malls around the country.  All were built improperly, and all are struggling in many significant ways, to the point that the Olympic rink closed.  Our team of specialists are working to help improve standing facilities to be better prepared for the environment.  New structures will be better suited as well.  For example, many facilities were built without understanding of how much energy is required to keep indoor air consistently cool to maintain good ice, especially in a tropical country that experiences extreme heat.

10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

Development of and through sport in developing countries can contribute to reduce the gap between them and more developed countries. The popularity and positive attitude towards sport make it a suitable tool for tackling inequality in areas and population that are difficult to reach.

  • Hockey should be available to anyone and everyone, and we try to provide access via equipment donations and providing coaches to communities.  Our coaches come from a variety of backgrounds around the world, and are all connected by a love of ice hockey and a passion to creating lasting relationships with people from different cultures.  Nationality, religion, race, gender and socio-economic status are irrelevant when we bond with the communities we support via ice hockey.  By enabling people to pursue their dreams of being better hockey players, we close the gap even further.

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Inclusion in and through sport is one of the main targets of Sport for Development and Peace. Accessible sport facilities and services contribute to the advancement of this goal and can provide examples of good practice for other kinds of settlements to adopt inclusive and resilient approaches.

  • With increased participation in our hockey coaching programs, we're teaching more and more children how to conduct themselves as responsible hockey players on the ice, and responsible citizens off the ice.  This is becoming increasingly evident, as we've seen players that were identified as problematic have increasingly become well-behaved individuals as they've seen others flourish through a positive attitude.

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

The incorporation of sustainable standards in the production and provision of sport products can contribute to the wider sustainable approach of consumption and production patterns in other industries. Messages and campaigns with this purpose can be disseminated through sport products, services and events.

  • We're working on ways to produce more hockey-related goods in India to reduce costs and carbon footprint and support the local economy.

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Sport activities, programs and events, in particular mega sport events that entail tourism, can incorporate elements aiming at raising awareness and knowledge of environmental sustainability as well as promote and implement positive responses to climate challenges. It can also facilitate the post-disaster recovery process by instilling a sense of identity and belonging among victims.

  • Few places are seeing the effects of climate change quite like the communities across the Himalayas.  We have been coaching at schools that are trying to call attention to climate change, and are working to provide solutions, and we will continue to support these schools, their initiatives, and look for ways to highlight the practical implications climate change is having on their communities. One example of our design will be some Guinness World Records sporting events that will create more awareness regarding our program and the region.

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

The connection of certain sporting activities to oceans and seas, such as water sports, can be utilised to advocate for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources within sports and beyond.

  • You can't make ice without water, no matter its source.  Proper care and management of water resources are critical, especially when it comes to frozen ponds and lakes that can be destroyed by mismanagement and poor public awareness & policy.  As with climate change initiatives, we will continue to support resource management initiatives that work to protect water.

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Sport offers a platform for educating and advocating for the preservation of terrestrial ecosystems. Outdoor sport can incorporate safeguards, activities and messages promoting the sustainable and environmentally respectful use of terrestrial resources.

  • Sometimes playing ice hockey on a pond isn't possible, and water must be diverted to dry land, or a facility will be constructed, in order to enable to game to be played.  In either of these instances, we are eminently conscientious of the need to take care of the land, and will continue to support any initiatives to protect ecosystems and forests.

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to just for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Sport can help to rebuild post-conflict societies, reunite divided communities, and recover from war-related trauma. In such processes, sport programmes and sporting events can reach out socially excluded groups providing them with scenarios for interaction and serving as a communication platform for the promotion of mutual understanding, reconciliation, unity, and a culture of peace.

  • While soccer/football may be the most popular sport around the world, it's not the team game that ice hockey is.  It's the fastest team sport and the only major sport requiring a wholly unique mode of transportation.  In order to be a successful hockey team, players must be united in the concept of team play, as the game does not enable individuals to dominate.  Players need to be accountable for their actions to their teammates, coaches and competitors, as it's a fast, physical game that can result in injuries if played recklessly.  Penalties are called based on a fair interpretation of the rules, and theatrics diminishes the integrity of the game, and therefore encourages an honesty in all participants (players, coaches, officials).  We have built in all of these aspects in to our coaching curriculum, which also incorporates national-body-sanctioned, thoroughly-researched and progressive training techniques that encourage positivity and fun in all players.

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Sport serves as an effective vehicle for translating targeted development objectives into reality and achieving tangible progress towards them. During such action implementation and beyond, the world of sport, from the grassroots to the professional level, from the private to the public sector, can provide powerful networks of partners and stakeholders of a diverse nature with a common commitment to the use of sport for sustainable development.

  • We're closely working with national associations, governments, non-governmental organizations and private individuals/companies to build a coalition of support to ensure sustainable development.