05 April, 2024 | Posted by Jenny Smith

IDSDP 2024: Sport for Peace and Inclusivity: Anthony Sheriff

On the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) 2024, the world gears up to celebrate the profound impact of sports on fostering peaceful and inclusive societies.

This year's theme, "Sport for the Promotion of Peaceful and Inclusive Societies," underscores the pivotal role that sports play in promoting unity, understanding, and social cohesion across diverse communities worldwide.

At Portobello Institute, we recognise the transformative power of sports in shaping lives, instilling values, and breaking down barriers. As we reflect on the significance of IDSDP 2024, we spoke with our very own Course Lead for the Graduate Diploma in Physical Education, Anthony Sheriff, to gather his insights on what the theme means from someone working in sports education.

Through his perspective and expertise, we delve into the intersection of sports, education, and societal progress.

Embracing the Essence of Sport: An Interview with Anthony Sheriff

1. How do you believe sports contribute to building peaceful and inclusive societies?

"I believe sport in its purest form is the greatest example of meritocracy. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity, colour, religion, or sexuality you are, sport is an industry that should allow you to reach your goals if you are good enough. People are judged on their ability and their attitudes in sport, not on their ethnicity or the background they come from or any other irrelevant metric.

"Look at any Premier League football team as an example and you will see a mix of ethnicities from a variety of different cultures, but that is all stripped away as they work together to achieve a common goal as a united team. That’s the real beauty and power of sport. It eliminates class structures that should never exist in the first place and that are only designed to hold people back."

2. In what ways do you integrate principles of inclusivity and diversity in your sports coaching or teaching methods?

"Much like in a sports team, a classroom is a place where people work together to better themselves and the overall learning experience. All teachers should encourage participation from all students, regardless of background or ability. Every student that enters my class is fully respected and are always encouraged to share their views.

"If a student comes from a different culture, that can only ever be a positive as they can offer us different perspectives and allow us to challenge the way in which we may have been doing things previously.

"Everyone, regardless of background or ability will feel valued and should leave each session feeling as though they have contributed and also taken something valuable from the lesson."

3. How do you think sports can be utilised to address social issues such as discrimination or conflict resolution?

"Sport is a powerful tool, and tragically an under-funded tool for addressing social issues. Sport can shape a young person’s moral compass and teach them key life skills such as respect, empathy, resilience in the face of adversity and conducting yourself with dignity whether you win or lose. Ironically, there are multiple examples of combat sports playing a huge role in helping young people avoid a life of violence by instilling the qualities I mentioned above.

"At the elite end of boxing, you can see this with the likes of Anthony Joshua, who went from experiencing issues with the law before entering a boxing gym and turning his life around by funnelling his aggression into a sport that he could better himself at. He is one extreme example, but there are thousands of kids who have been kept out of trouble by focusing their attention on a sport such as boxing.

"I genuinely believe that this is true of all sports as they give young people a focus and allow them to burn energy and better themselves all at the same time."

4. How do you believe sport education can contribute to fostering a culture of peace and inclusivity within communities, and what strategies do you employ to ensure these values are embedded in your teaching approach?

"Sport education promotes peace and inclusivity by teaching teamwork, empathy, and respect. Students learn to work together, understand others' perspectives, and treat everyone fairly. We create a welcoming environment for everyone, making sure everyone can join in and be themselves.

"By focusing on these values, sports education helps students become not just better athletes, but also kinder people who make their communities better places to be."

Bonus Question: Who is an inspiration in sport for you, an example of someone who has made a difference off the field/court etc.?

"I have many sporting inspirations from a variety of different sports, and although I do love athletes who are the best in their field and perform in a way that us mere mortals can’t even comprehend, my real admiration has always been mainly for those athletes who were perhaps less talented but have milked every single drop out of the ability they were given.

"As a big Liverpool supporter, for every Steven Gerrard or Mo Salah who blow my mind with their incredible skills and talents, I’ve always been more drawn to the Jordan Henderson and James Milner types who have made the absolute most out of their abilities and got to the very top of their profession through grit, determination, and perseverance. I believe the knock-on effect of these kinds of athletes can inspire young kids and allow them to realise that their dreams are achievable with the right mindset and attitude.

"For a very similar reason, my favourite ever athlete (and there’s probably not many people that would say this) is the Liverpool boxer and former WBC Cruiserweight world champion, Tony Bellew. Despite not being gifted with the natural tools that many world champions have, Tony got every last drop out of the ability he had, and that determination saw him exceed athletes who were more naturally gifted on multiple occasions.

"Having also lived in Liverpool for 3-years and been around many boxing clubs in the city, it was so clear to see the impact he was having on the kids in the city to work hard, stay dedicated and follow their dreams, which is a legacy far greater than any boxing belt can ever provide. He’s a real example of the power of sport and how it can provide young people with the opportunity to better their lives, regardless of where their journey starts. Sport gives people the opportunity to decide where their journey will end."

Uniting Communities Through the Power of Sport

As we celebrate IDSDP 2024, let us reaffirm our commitment to harnessing the power of sports for social good. Through courses like the Graduate Diploma in Physical Education at Portobello Institute, we endeavour to equip future educators and coaches with the tools to foster inclusive environments, promote peace, and inspire positive change.

Together, let us continue to champion the transformative potential of sports in building a more peaceful and inclusive world.

Interested In Studying?

Book in a call with our expert admissions advisor, Hannah, today!

Next intakes include our PGCEi on April 13th, and our Graduate Diploma in Physical Education on June 8th!

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