Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma today praised the Commonwealth Games Federation, host nation Samoa and the hundreds of young athletes who took part in the Commonwealth Youth Games, for showing that sport can bring communities together and inspire positive social action.
Over five days, between 5-11 September, more than 900 young people aged 14-18 competed for 107 gold medals in nine sports: aquatics, archery, athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rugby sevens, squash, tennis and weightlifting.
Secretary-General Sharma, who attended the opening ceremony in Apia, said: “Every young athlete who took part in these Commonwealth Youth Games should be immensely proud of their achievement. This bright new generation has won our admiration and respect for their dedication and sense of purpose. They have shown how sport can bring communities together, and create new bonds and greater understanding among teams and individuals representing our immensely rich Commonwealth diversity.”
He continued: “The Commonwealth Youth Games embodies all that we seek to achieve as a global family by advancing respect, understanding, integrity and co-operation among our diverse nations. It has been inspiring to see these values on display in Samoa, whose Government and people have been welcoming and generous hosts. Samoa and the Commonwealth Games Federation, together with the young competitors and team officials, have given us one of the best youth sports event in the world, immensely enriched by the distinctive Commonwealth characteristics of goodwill and mutual support.”
During the Games, the Commonwealth Secretariat supported a group of youth leaders - the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace (CYDSP) working group – as well as the Commonwealth Games Federation and local Games Organising Committee to deliver workshops for young people on how sport can contribute to strengthening national development and overcoming conflict.
During the fun and engaging sessions, the athletes and young volunteers - 125 young people from 17 teams in total - were given guidance on how to act as positive role models and leaders in their communities.
Assmaah Helal, Chair of the CYSDP, commented: “When young people are provided with opportunities to participate in sport and engage in decision-making and development processes, they are better able to contribute to positive outcomes and sustainable change in areas such as health, education, and employment.”
Oliver Dudfield, Head of Sport for Development and Peace at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “The Commonwealth Youth Games have been a fantastic opportunity for athletes to learn more about the Commonwealth, our shared values and identity, and the diversity of nations and territories taking part. Sport is more than competitions and contestants however. It is a valuable development tool that can be used by community-based organisations, sporting organisations and governments to contribute to sustainable development.”
The Youth Games followed a regional meeting of Commonwealth Youth Ministers in Apia between 1-3 September, during which Pacific governments heeded a call from youth leaders to recognise the contribution of sport in development work and peace-building efforts around the world.
Last week, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth Games Federation unanimously approved ‘Transformation 2022’, a seven-year strategic plan to broaden its focus as a global movement to unite athletes, citizens and communities, while also recognising the value of sport as a tool for development and peace.
David Grevemberg, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation said: “At the Commonwealth Youth Games this week, we’ve seen fantastic performances on the field of play, as young Commonwealth athletes make their mark across nine sports. The Commonwealth Youth Sport workshops – aligning with the Federation’s values and ambition to harness the power of sport as a tool for development and peace - build on those sporting successes, asking young athletes to consider the impact of their performance and their current and future place as role models.”
Notes to Editors
Subscribing media organisations can download images of the Commonwealth Youth Games from: http://www.gettyimages.com.au/EditorialImages/Sport?parentEventId=575290437
Launched by the Commonwealth Games Federation in 2000 and now in its 5th edition, the Commonwealth Youth Games are a sustainable opportunity for smaller cities and nations to benefit from hosting a major sporting event, using predominantly pre-existing venues. Find out more at: samoacyg2015.ws
The Commonwealth Secretariat’s sport for development and peace (SDP) work is delivered through the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Find out more at: thecommonwealth.org/our-work/youth
The Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace (CYDSP) working group launched a youth advocacy toolkit on 7 April 2015 - International Day of Sport for Development and Peace - designed to provide young leaders with the skills to become SDP advocates. The toolkit played a central role in the delivery of the workshops in Samoa.
The Pacific Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting, held in Apia from 1-3 September was convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat under the theme ‘Youth as Partners in Sustainable Small Island Development.’ The meeting included a Youth Leaders’ Forum, which called on governments to recognise SDP as a proven strategy to contribute to sustainable development. To read the communiques, visit www.thecommonwealth.org.
During the Youth Games, athletes also had the opportunity to participate in a Just Play festival, a UNICEF and Oceania Football Confederation initiative that promotes physical activity for children aged 6-12 through football, while also addressing endemic issues such as non-communicable diseases, poor nutrition, and gender equality.
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