Sports heal

02 Mar 2007

Colombo, 2 March, 2007 - Vince Lombardi the legendary football coach once said “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” UNDP believes in this Lombardian theory and is confident its Sports for Peace Project [S4P] in Sri Lanka launched in August 2006 will have positive results.
A five-day residential training programme for sports coaches from around the country was the most recent event in pursuit of this UNDP mission. The one hundred and twenty participants, among them 30 women from twelve districts were a satisfied lot having had the opportunity to interact with their counter parts from all areas of the island.
Sports for Peace is a programme funded by the Government of Australia and implemented in partnership with sports federations at the national level and with the district sports and zonal education offices at the district level.
The primary focus of the S4P project is to build capacity among young men and women in communities affected by the conflict and the tsunami. The project also aims to improve sports infrastructure and to use sports as a means of relief and reconciliation to the traumatized. A full day workshop on 'Trauma Counseling and Reconciliation' was the highlight of the five day event. It also emphasized the importance of involving the disabled in sports activities. The coaches were shown the relevance of this ‘seemingly irrelevant’ aspect of sports coaching and how they could contribute to achieving peace through their area of work - sports.
‘As sports coaches, who frequently or if not always interact with youth who may have been affected by varying traumas as a result of the conflict and tsunami, you have a golden opportunity to intervene by extending support and facilitating their healing’ said Shyamika Jayasundera, Advisor and Consultant in Conflict Transformation and Lecturer in Conflict Transformation at the University of Colombo.
Jayasundera remarked, "it is imperative to ensure that the trauma-energy that arises is directed into channels most beneficial to the individual in particular and the society in general. If this is not done, the nation will continue to remain unhealed."

UNDP’s Senior Programme Manger Wuria Karadaghy handed over certificates to the participants on the final day of the training programme at the Sugathadasa Sports Hotel this evening. More advanced training programmes for coaches are in the pipeline.