In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 6th the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). The acknowledgment celebrated the contribution of sports and physical activity to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world.

Prince Albert II of Monaco is a patron of the Peace and Sport organization, developed in 2010. The organization is recognized by both the United Nations (UN) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the leader for worldwide awareness of IDSDP. According to the site, “Peace and Sport brings together a team of ‘Champions for Peace’, top-level sports champions who are either still active or have retired from their sports career who wish to help disadvantaged communities through sport. They are role-models, heroes and a source of inspiration for young people throughout the world.” They even have a search button to help you find champions in your area.

The first International Day of Sport for Development and Peace took place on April 6, 2014. The reason April 6th was selected is that, in 2002, the Assembly of the World Health Organization urged Member States to celebrate an annual “Move for Health Day” to promote physical activity. April 6th was used by several organizations and the IDSP was seen as a natural extension of this initiative.

In a letter to member federations this year the WBSC said, “This decision represented a historic step in recognizing the transformative power of sport and its great potential in driving positive social change.”

In the first three years, more than 840 projects have been held across 180 countries on five continents. In 2016, 170 countries and five continents were represented in the 310 registered projects, with over 35,000 participants worldwide.

The WBSC has encouraged their member federations to take action in this year’s event. President Fraccari wrote to his membership, “The WBSC is committed to honoring the role that sports in general, and baseball and softball in particular, play in society. We invite you to bring light to the projects and events related to peace and development through sport.”

The European Softball Federation (ESF) will be participating in their front offices with #WhiteCard photos throughout the week. The Czech Republic Softball Federation also has two events scheduled over the next two weekends.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, “Sport fosters tolerance, mutual understanding and peace. It empowers, inspires and unites.”

According to the UN site, “sport has proven to be a cost-effective and flexible tool in promoting peace and development objectives.” In the Declaration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sports’ role in social progress was admitted, “We recognize the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect, and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion.”

On March 29, 2017, the staff at UN Headquarters were offered the opportunity to try taekwondo, view a demonstration of, and attend seminars on, the combat sport. It was a celebratory event for the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. The event was the latest example of cooperation between Peace and Sport and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) after the two organizations, and the WTF’s Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2016.

A children’s taekwondo demonstration team, composed of 15 children, ages 10-14, performed poomsae and a mixed gender tag-team competition. Great Britain’s double Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones was also on-site. Jones said, “It was inspiring to listen to athletes’ experiences on how sport has changed their life. I hope to help younger generations to nurture their dreams and hopes through taekwondo.”

During the event table tennis, which has events worldwide this week, was also demonstrated and taught. At the conference Mr. Joel Bouzou, President of Peace and Sport, praised continued efforts of the World Taekwondo Federation on humanitarian activities, pointing out that taekwondo was the first sport to allow refugee athletes to take part in the Qualification Tournament for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is an annual celebration of the power of sport to drive social change, community development and to foster peace and understanding.

“The IOC, in its capacity of Permanent Observer to the UN, has been supportive of this initiative, as it values its potential to recognize sports organizations’ role in and contribution to social change and human development.”

This Day offers a new opportunity to promote sport and physical activity as a cost-effective and meaningful tool to address a wide range of needs related to: education, health, social inclusion, youth development, gender equality, peace-building and sustainable development.

According to their website, using sport to promote development and peace has been at the core of the IOC’s mission since its creation in 1894. IOC founder Pierre de Coubertin was explicit in his desire to use Olympism as a means to promote harmony among individuals and nations, at all levels from casual practice to competitive sport.

It is also an opportunity to showcase all the ways that the IOC, National Olympic Committees, International and National Sports Federations, sports clubs, governmental and non-governmental organizations, neighborhood associations and all other entities and volunteers use sport for the betterment of humanity.

There are three ways to participate in the events on April 6th. First, and most simple, is to get involved socially. This weekend is opening day for clubs across the continent. Take advantage of that wonderful new season energy and engage your players, coaches, staff and fans to take white card photos.

The “Peace through sport” movement has selected the white card as a symbol of their project and they use the #WhiteCard to socialize the change they are trying to create. Take pictures with people holding white cards. Selected to signify purity and peace, the cards are representative of the positive and constructive opportunities sport provide.

Secondly, you can go to the events list on the website to see what might be happening in your area already. There are event and contact details included in every listing to make it easy for you to gain information or reach out and ask to join their event.

Finally your organization can arrange their own special day to foster peace and development. There are sample ideas as well as past events up on the website. It doesn’t have to be big to be great! The point is to promote what we already know makes our sports special.

The rules of our games are rooted in fair play and team above individual, while rewarding individual growth through the statistical data. They also foster leadership, specifically in the positions of catcher and shortstop. It is hard to imagine better lessons toward peace and individual development than these. Help others to see that, through baseball and softball, you get more than just a couple of hours of exercise each week. You get friends and community built right in.

From the first day a person steps into the stands at any game, anywhere in the world, chances are they are leaving with a new friend. It is the individual’s reliance on these community members, to teach them the game, encourage them not to give up on trying to learn the never-ending quirky rules, explaining to them how much more there is to see than just the stuff that happens when the bat makes contact (like watching those great “dances” the coaches like to do on the base paths).

Encourage your community to become part of the action. Host a clinic ahead of game day next weekend that people can sign up for this coming weekend. Teach some basic skills you think are most important to fostering peace and development. Something as simple as an “Invite A Friend” event, where people bringing a new fan to the park receive discounted admission to the park for the day, is also a simple-to-execute, great starter event. Also, because it is early in your season, chances are the offer will pay off in paid admissions throughout the remainder of the year.

We recommend inviting a local orphanage or foster home facility to the event. Provide a clinic before the game donating an old baseball or softball the club no longer uses, signed by the team or ready for them to use, to each of the kids who come. Another great option is to invite the siblings of kids staying at your local Ronald McDonald Houses. These kids aren’t sick and their entire family is generally living in a very small space far from their home. It would be a great opportunity for them to get away from the adult problems of childhood illness for a few hours while increasing their own physical activity and local friendship base.

On the event site you will also find reports from previous years. Every year the IOC and UN receive copies of the event reports. The more we, as a community, participate in this event the larger the spotlight we can shine on baseball and softball around the world. Doing that could mean the difference between having a local club and offering the opportunity to train future Olympic athletes on your fields.

If your Adult Division I club wants to join in on our socialization feel free to send your photos to our news department. We’re happy to post player, fan and staff participation photos. Just let us know a bit about the photos you send including the photographer, so we can give them credit, as well as the names of those pictured. We’ll be socializing throughout the day and will include your club’s social tags when it goes live.

This is meant to foster fun, creativity, friendship, unity and peace. Let those ideas come through in your photos and remember them when someone says they’d rather not participate. Not everyone is meant for internet superstardom. Some stars shine brighter from the wings. Be respectful of their needs and use the opportunity to focus on their contribution to your club in another, creative way.

Your photos are also a great way to spread the love through your local media. Tag them socially when you post photos and send your club’s event details to the newsroom. While your club’s activities on their own may not be enough for the local media to cover you on a regular basis, having an event like this behind you gives them a unique, local angle for reporting on an international event. It is a win-win for everyone involved.

Baseball and Softball events already registered around Europe Include:

Women’s Softball Spring Tournament Eagles Park

Youth Softball Friendship Tournament Beavers Chomutov

Feel like a road trip? Events in other areas:

Olympism for Life & Peace Dhabi and Olympic City

Peace and Unity Cup Tanzania

Baseball Friendship Cup Tunisia

There are other non-baseball/softball celebrations across the world so give a look and find the one that’s right for you.

On April 6th we’ll be covering the professional leagues across the EU with the help of some amazing photographers. Keep an eye on our social feeds at baseballEBM and add your own photos to the conversation!

FB page for the event