SPORT AS A TOOL CAN BE USED TO COMBAT XENOPHOBIA The Cape Town Peace Conference indicates that international sports events like the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, have the ability to bring together people from neighbouring African countries in a spirit of fun, togetherness and ultimately peace. The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, relaunched last year, has found immediate success as a world-class road running event, securing IAAF Silver Label status within its first year of revitalisation. Creating a spinoff benefit, the results are expected to continue driving the race as an effective tool for change in crisis communities. Chaired by the Foundation for Sport and Development and Peace, the inaugural PEACE Conference was held on the sidelines of the 2014 race, taking place on the Friday of the marathon weekend at the Southern Sun Waterfront hotel in Cape Town. The symposium indicated the event could be used in the same way as other sports festivals, which promote peace and harmony, a generally associated norm and objective of any world-class marathon sports event held around the world. “Sport has played and is playing a very important role in conflict resolution, nation building and civilian peacekeeping,” the PEACE Conference revealed in its 2014 findings. Retaining its support as the headline sponsor for the race, Sanlam says it is delighted to be involved in an event that has the ability to promote peace. It is also pleased to see the road running festival boosting the local economy and enhancing social development. Yegs Ramiah, chief executive of Sanlam Brand, says: “Sanlam is proud to have contributed to a world class event right here on the African continent with the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon being the only IAAF accredited marathon in Africa. It is a powerful opportunity to bring a broad cross-section of people together and unite them in one cause, which resonates across all boundaries. ” Last year, the inaugural PEACE Conference found that sport and recreation make a major contribution to social development. It also impacts positively on health, education and social capital, particularly among the youth. “Research has shown that sport and recreation act as a significant vehicle for youth skills training and education. Various NGOs and MOD Centres are making a significant difference in this respect,” the PEACE Conference found. Additionally, life skills courses and awareness programmes are offered through sport, the symposium revealed. While the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is internationally recognised as a 42km race, it also focuses on youth participation, with 4 435 entries received for the standard marathon distance last season and 5 277 received for the 10km Peace Run. The shorter distance race, to be held again this season, provides a platform for younger runners and school children to take part in festivities. Additional 22km and 11km Peace trail runs and a 4.2km fun run ensure people of all ages can be directly involved in the event. “Our research has shown that sport and recreation make a substantive contribution to building social and human capital,” the PEACE Conference revealed. “It also increases the resilience of communities through increased community mobilisation and organisation. Social capital development has improved the psycho-social behaviour of children such as through MOD Centres. It has also improved trust, social relationships, learners’ confidence and social collaboration.” Road running races around the world have promoted peace by using active campaigns: Expanding its reach abroad, the Foundation for Sport and Development and Peace held the Boston Sport and Peace Roundtable in the build-up to the recent Boston Marathon in the United States. This took place on the sidelines of the world’s oldest 42km race, two years after it was rocked by terrorist bombings. Standing together by using the historic race as a platform, millions of Massachusetts residents have voiced their support for the “Boston Strong” awareness campaign since 2013. The slogan has since become synonymous with the event. The Tegla Loroupe Peace Race in Kenya is a 10km event hosted by the former women’s marathon world record holder. It brings together warriors from rival tribes to reduce conflict in the region. The Peace Marathon in Canada, another 10km race, promotes peace and harmony in the Korean community in Toronto. The Pristina Half-Marathon in Kosovo aligns itself to similar ideals by using the tag line “run for peace and tolerance.” As the only marathon on the continent holding IAAF Silver Label status, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon organising committee believes the prestige attached to the annual road running festival will continue to have a positive impact on SA residents at large. Aside from boosting the local economy, the top-flight race will showcase the Mother City on the international stage, and provide a platform for South Africans to join hands with runners and spectators from around the world. In 2014, the PEACE Conference welcomed 73 delegates from 12 countries, creating a forum of exchange across various sectors of society. Organisers remain confident the symposium will have a similar long-term impact as other major races have done, by uniting people in a common cause in the Western Cape, across South Africa and throughout Africa. Race director Janet Welham says: ” It is crucial to assist as much as we can to bring people in South Africa together. We trust this will have a ripple effect across the rest of the continent.” Sanlam Cape Town Marathon ambassador Elana Meyer, who finished second at the Boston Marathon in 1995 and 1997, also believes the race can be used to promote peace in her home country. This comes in the wake of violent xenophobic attacks around the nation. “We will again invite some of the top East African runners to compete at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. The race will be open to runners from across the continent,” Meyer says. “Road running has long been an inclusive sport in South Africa, which has helped break down barriers. We are certain the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon can take further steps in bringing people together by creating unity and peace.” The second PEACE Conference will be held in the build-up to the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. It will take place on the 17th & 18th September 2015 and is brought to you by Vital Health Foods, the Foundation for Sport Development and Peace, and the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply You must be logged in to post a comment.