Growing Sport for Development in Vietnam
Sport is an integral part of our society and can be so much more than learning how to get better at kicking and catching. Sport can be an effective development tool to achieve a number of social and community goals including promoting healthy lifestyles, providing employment opportunities and bringing political groups together. As the UN’s lead agency for physical education and sport, UNESCO is driven to ensure sport contributes positively to global development.
In Vietnam, UNESCO is looking to see how it can best assist the Ministry of Culture Sport and Tourism (MOCST) and Vietnam Sports Administration in their effort to strengthen sport for development work. To begin this process, UNESCO, in consultation with Football for All Vietnam, hosted a roundtable with Vietnamese organizations working in sport for development. The meeting provided one of the first opportunities for organizations working in sport for development in Vietnam to reflect together on the possibility to increase joint collaboration in 2020 and beyond.
The roundtable was held at UN headquarters in Hanoi and was attended by representatives of organizations who have demonstrated work in the sport for development area. Representatives from the following organizations attended the roundtable: Vietnam Sport Administration (as represented by Vice Chairman Lê Hoàng Yến), Plan International, Football for All Vietnam (FFAV), Vietnam Olympic Committee, Good Neighbours Vietnam, Stop Human Trafficking Vietnam, Blue Dragon, Church World Service, Child Fund and the UNESCO National Commission.
For the representatives, it was an opportunity to connect with UNESCO and understand their role and the way in which sport can effectively contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Representatives were interested to learn that there is strong evidence of sport being effective in contributing towards seven sustainable development goals: 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
After being asked ‘How can we unite?’ by the FFAV director, the representatives shared their organisation’s interesting and impactful work in sport for development. While each organisation had a slightly different approach and focused on different development areas, all were using the power of sport for good. The work of these organisations was predominantly in the areas of youth empowerment, building life skills and ensuring the protection of children in sport.
While understanding the sport for development activities being completed in Vietnam was key, there was a strong interest in the ongoing collaboration between UNESCO, the Vietnam Sports Administration and each organisation working in sport for development. Importantly, representatives emphasised that to achieve advances in sport for development work in Vietnam, a bridge between development of sport and sport for development is required.
Development of sport is all about participation and nurturing talent to create the most highly skilled athletes. Sport for development focuses on the role sport can play in contributing to the achievement of development outcomes beyond sport. Connecting these commonly separated areas allows for greater pooling of resources and knowledge to reach a greater number of people with sport.
While sport for development projects are widely implemented globally, there there are still many ways in which they could improve. Through the simple task of hosting a roundtable, UNESCO Vietnam was able to connect sport for development organisations and understand the importance of diverse partnerships. This connection and understanding lays the foundation for stronger and more sustainable sport for development work in the future.