SDG #1 No Poverty
Updated: Feb 28
This is the first article for the Sports for SDG series. In this article we’ll be exploring how sports can contribute to helping eliminate poverty around the world. In Canada alone, 1 in 7 Canadians (4.7 million) are living in poverty. More than 700 million people (10% of the world’s population) live in extreme poverty and struggle to fulfil basic needs like health, access to clean water, education, housing, etc. Obviously there are other policies that need to be in place to end poverty, like governments and NGOs helping increase access to proper sanitation and health care, sports can’t introduce clean drinking water to a community, but sports can help end the cycle of poverty and lift families and children out of poverty.
How can sports help end the poverty cycle?
Sport programs engage youth in activities that take them away from situations that can help continue the poverty cycle. There have been many studies done that found that after school programs keep youth out of potentially risky situations. An after school program can provide a safe, structured area for youth to develop important life skills. Sports teaches skills like teamwork, dedication, leadership (but also how to be a follower), communication, goal setting, time management and many more.These skills help set people up to succeed in life. National youth policies need to use sport as a key resource for positive youth development.
I try not to make generalizations but in a situation where a single parent or both parents are working long hours to help make ends meet trying to lift their families out of poverty, if their kids have no supervision at home after school they may get involved in things they shouldn't. By offering affordable after school sport programs kids get the chance to stay out of trouble and set themselves up for a life out of poverty.
Sports can promote health and well-being and social inclusion that can lead to larger engagement in society. As an athlete, people are taught about proper nutrition and diets that can help them understand the importance of finding healthy foods. Children involved in sports are more likely not to engage in risky behaviour, being an athlete leads to less substance use.
Especially in refugee camps, sport programming can provide stability and a safe environment for homeless individuals. They teach the importance of cooperation and self-reliance.
Sports also employ people. Creating after school programs require administrators and coaches, this in turn can help lift people out of poverty. Sport tourism is a huge, growing industry right now and there is a lot of potential to use sport as a facilitator to raise more funds and growing the economy of a local town.
Where possible organisations and governments need to offer programs that focus on sports after school until parents are able to come and get their kids. By keeping kids out of trouble we break the poverty cycle that keeps families in poverty over generations. These policies need to be implemented in tandem with policies that build infrastructure to raise the standard of living. We cannot solely rely on sports to lift people out of poverty. But it is part of the solution. We can build infrastructure like plumping and hospitals and schools, but unless we break the cycle entirely we will never end poverty.