Seminar on UN Day of Sports for Development and Peace : When the children play, the world wins!

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ISLAMABAD: Top-notch TV personalities, hardcore academics, Olympians and grassroots development activists teamed up on Sunday evening to push the children’s ‘right to play’ for a bright future of Pakistan.National hockey star and Olympian Mansoor Ali Khan, top-notch TV journalist Syed Talat Hussain, Right to Play Country Director Iqbal Jatoi and Sport for Development Foundation President Amir Bilal were amongst the panellists at a seminar organised at a local hotel in Islamabad.To mark United Nations’ International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6, students, young players, sports enthusiasts and development activist shared quality time to discuss ways to confront challenges facing today’s Pakistani youth.Iqbal Jatoi presented an overview of Right to Plays’ movement in Pakistan. His teams are engaged in sports for development projects in over a dozen districts of KP and Sindh, while attending to some 170,000 children on a regular basis through structured play-based activities with educational outcomes. He said the organisation stands strong due to over 400 local coaches and 1,000 junior leaders who are acting as “role models for younger participants as well as the community”.A young girl from Chakwal narrated her inspiring story of winning silver medal in provincial level karate championship at the age of eight despite opposition from the clan.“You are incomplete as a human being if you can’t express yourself with confidence,” said the teenager from Mardan. A ‘young leader’ with the Right to Play, she said she wasn’t so confident and expressive until she was engaged with sports through this organisation.Right to Play is actively engaged with over 1,000 government schoolteachers providing services in disaster and conflict-hit regions of the country with methodology that has helped them incorporate active learning and activity-based teaching methodology.Drawing from his experiences as national goalkeeper of Pakistan’s hockey team, Olympian Mansoor said the sports fall at the lowest ebb of a school’s priorities. “I pay a hefty amount of money as fee in a private school but fail to impress the management to put high priority on sport activities,” he said.Johann Olav Koss, founder-president of Right to Play, said in a message, “What started out as a simple idea has grown into a global movement, providing over one million children with the tools they need to protect themselves from disease, to encourage them to attend and stay in school and to resolve conflict and create peaceful communities.The Right to Play’s participation in the movement has “evolved from the belief that every child has the right to play and to the reality that plays has the power to transform the world”.Of the one million children in RTP’s programmes each week, 50 per cent are girls plus over 10,700 children living with disabilities now participate in our curriculum.The organisation, working in Pakistan’s disaster-hit Sindh and conflict-ridden KP province, has 16,000 volunteer coaches globally besides are 9,200 junior leaders in 20 countries.Wilfried Lemke, UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace for RTP Pakistan, said, “I challenge everyone to look for those with limited or no access to sport and try to remove the barriers that stand in the way of their participation.”Syed Talat Hussain emphasised that parents should provide sports opportunities to their children despite lack of concern by the school administrators or the government. “I have been a sportsman all my life and that has made considerable difference in evolving my personality.”

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