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17 Apr 2015

UNESCO and Al-Hilal push for social inclusion through sport
BY Tom Anstey

UNESCO and Al-Hilal want to use sport to engage excluded youths

UNESCO and Al-Hilal want to use sport to engage excluded youths
photo: UN Photo/Albert González Farran

Saudi Arabian football club Al-Hilal and UNESCO have joined forces to promote social inclusion through sports in conflict zones.

UNESCO director general, Irina Bokova and Al-Hilal president, Mohammad Al-Hmaidani, met to sign a three-year deal to work together in partnership. As part of the agreement, Al-Hilal will put up US$1.5m (€1.4m, £1m) in funding to support projects providing high-quality physical education in schools and the social integration of young people, especially in conflict and post-conflict zones.

The new partnership is in response to a recent publication by UNESCO, which showed a significant decline of worldwide fitness levels in young people. The report also noted the importance of values promoted by sport and its power to engage excluded youngsters.

“More than ever today, we need to nurture the power of sport as a pillar of healthy societies, societies at ease with themselves and others, societies united in their diversity, based on human rights and equal dignity,” said Bokova. “In turbulent times, sport must be supported as a transformational force for social inclusion, gender equality, and youth empowerment, with benefits extending far beyond the grounds of stadiums.

“This spirit guides all UNESCO’s action and the partnerships we have crafted in the fight against doping, to support sport as a force of peace."

Several stars from the world of sport – including former footballer Daniel Bravo, Tai Kwon Do champion Pascal Gentil and wheelchair basketballer Ryadh Sallem – were on-hand at the signing ceremony to support the UNESCO initiative.

“We are very proud of the partnership with UNESCO, and we will do our best to achieve the goals set by the organisation” said Al-Hmaidan. “This is the beginning and we look forward to continued success.”




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