The Generation Amazing festival was held from 2nd to 4th December and hosted young people from across the world. Discussions revolved around global issues and showcased the capacity of sports, especially football, to drive positive social change. One of the workshops “Sport and youth in turbulent times” was organised by the International Platform for Sports and Development. Ishita Godinho, Community Development and Communications Manager at Forca Goa Foundation was a panellist at this workshop. She was representing both the Foundation and the UNESCO Youth and Sport Task Force. The other panelists were representatives from ‘Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Network’ and ‘Foundation for Sport Development and Peace Youth Network’.
The conversation was focused on the way sport for development organisations can stay connected with the youth in the middle of the pandemic. Ishita started the conversation by speaking about the Youth and Sport Task Force as well as the Forca Goa Foundation. She explained how we are trying to make a positive difference through community-based activities. She also talked about the fact that both organisations are using their programs to champion the UN SDGs. The panel further discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of the panelists talked about its effect on their work and how they adjusted their programs accordingly.
Impact of the Pandemic
Ishita talked about our work with the various relief organisations that were helping daily workers and migrants by providing them with ration and essential items. She further explained about the Foundation’s ‘At Home Football Program’ and its inception. We knew that there were children who were at home and unable to train or play. Some of them did not even have access to the technology required for online classes. So we developed the ‘At Home Football Program’. We made it available on WhatsApp – one of the most common mediums of communications used today. When asked if there was any way technology has changed the way the Foundation conducts programs, Ishita talked about the fact that technology was a boon that helped us stay connected to the children. But as a sports organisation we realise the importance and benefits of going out and playing on the pitch.
The panelists further discussed the future of sports for development entities. The general consensus was that the need for such programs will continue in the future as well. Ishita touched upon the fact that we regularly receive inquiries from parents about the start of on-ground sessions. This shows that parents have realised the value of regular play in their child’s life. We have a long way to go, especially due to the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also gave a parting piece of advice for other youth groups and networks. Ishita talked about elite footballers who are using their influence to talk about important social issues. She further gave examples of Megan Rapinoe supporting LGBTQ rights and equality in sports, and of Marcus Rashford and his quest for zero hunger in the UK.