Sri Lanka: sport for development and peace

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Team spirit and respect for others are just two of the values that Terre des hommes (Tdh) intends to pass on through sports activities in Sri Lanka. As sport brings people together, Tdh, in partnership with the Olympic Committee, is launching a pilot project called ‘Sport for Development and Peace’.

Sri Lanka, after many years of civil war (1983-2009), a tsunami (2004) and two terrible floods (2011 and 2012), is still trying to recover from these tragic events. Although most of the displaced people have been able to go back to their places of origin, resources are still limited and needs are great. Tdh has been working in Sri Lanka for the past 30 years and has contributed to restoring basic services (health centres, schools, latrines); it is still running numerous projects.

A promising pilot project

Combining sport with its projects for child protection was obvious for the Tdh team. In this region, marked by 30 years of civil war, sport – where working together and supporting one another is often indispensable – will make it possible to strengthen the weakened social relationships.

21 villages in the districts of Kilinochchi and Jaffna, in the north of Sri Lanka, were chosen. The choice was made because Tdh is already present in that area and thus has a good knowledge of the terrain. It can strengthen and extend its field of action with the local communities with whom it has already established solid links. There, playing fields will be renovated and equipped, volunteer sport coaches given training, and regular sports activities for kids between six and eighteen will be held. As well, sports tournaments between the villages will be organized. All in all, over a thousand children will be able to play sports in safe surroundings.

By way of these activities, educational messages can be passed on to the rural population, so often isolated and living in great poverty.The potential of sports, enabling the community spirit to be strengthened by forging links, has not yet been sufficiently gone into, says Mai Groth, Assistant Delegate for Tdh Sri Lanka. Tdh proposes to remedy this state of affairs by means of this wide-scale pilot project.

It also gives us an opportunity to tackle and to make the population more aware of various issues encountered in sport as well as in daily life, such as violence, gender inequality, health and healthcare, and child rights.

This one-year pilot project will enable Tdh to integrate sports practices for development and peace into its programmes for protection, especially in the areas affected by the conflicts. An innovation to be watched closely!

Every year, Terre des hommes offers sustainable solutions and a better future for over two million children and their relatives. Learn more about our projects in Sri Lanka.

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