Coronavirus washes away International Sports Day quietly

Thursday, April 9th, 2020 00:00 |
FIFA celebrates International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Photo/FIFA/COURTESY

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) had its plans of celebrating this year’s International Day of Sports for Development and Peace observed on April 6 thwarted by the current Covid-19 pandemic’s spread forcing it to opt for an online challenge targeting youth between the ages of 15 to 35. 

In addition to the challenge that is encouraging the youth to stay home but also stay active, the agency is also running a White Card (#WhiteCard) campaign, a worldwide digital campaign created by Peace and Sport which promotes positive and constructive values of sport.  

The #WhiteCard campaign involves a person holding up a white card,  just like a referee, in an action meant to symbolise the positive power of sport. 

In contrast with the red card which signifies the most serious offence in sport, the white card is a gesture of inclusion, equity and peace.

“Kenya hosts the UNESCO regional office for Eastern Africa, an office that serves 13 countries. 

Initially, we had planned to commemorate the InternationalDay of Sport for Development and Peace in Laikipia County. 

The focus was to be on traditional sports and games as powerful means of promoting positive societal values as well as enhance recognition of the importance of traditional sports and games in promoting inclusiveness and peaceful coexistence in society,” said David Onyango, one of the event organisers in the Social and Human Sciences Sector, (SHS) UNESCO  Regional Office for Eastern Africa. 

Laikipia County was the destination of choice for this year’s celebrations as it often experiences cases of ethnic clashes, cattle raids and pastoral conflicts among others.

UNESCO had partnered with the ministry of Sports,  Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, Kenya Academy of Sports and Maasai Cricket Warriors for the April 6 celebrations. 

“As the activities involved crowds and traveling contrary to the government’s directives since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country,  we settled for an online campaign targeting the youth with messages that encourage them to, not just stay at home, but also stay active by engaging in indoor sports. 

We recognise that the current situation makes young  people more vulnerable to unrest hence the need to encourage them to be engaged constructively through value based sports,” added Onyango.

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