August 10, 2013
Switzerland’s most famous football stadium had never seen anything like this before…
Just a short walk from the immaculate green pitch where the new season will soon kick off, over a hundred people wearing full-body protective suits gathered.
Within a short few minutes, everyone, from their hands to their faces, was covered in shades of pink, yellow and blue.
It was all in the name of an inspiring artistic project held to see what the young leaders and coaches attending the Laureus Fair Play Summit had learned over three days of workshops promoting the best of what sport can teach and how to use of sport as a social development tool to improve the lives of young people.
And going by the vast murals created, lessons of friendship, teamwork and, importantly, fair play, had been on everyone’s mind.
The young leaders, coaches and staff from Laureus projects in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were at the Stade de Suisse, home of leading Swiss football team BSC Young Boys. Sport workshops over the three days included basketball from PeacePlayers International that promoted peace building, and health education through Coaching for Hope's football exercises.
But despite the fun of the artistic exercise, the highlight for many on the Summit’s final day was a Fair Play Street Soccer tournament played on the plaza in front of the 32,000 capacity all-seater stadium with new Laureus Ambassador Stéphane Chappuisat, the former Borussia Dortmund footballer, taking part.
The Fair Play Street Soccer tournament demonstrated important life lessons - respecting opponents, following the rules and team work. It was won by a team from England made up of participants from the Laureus-supported Track Academy.
Laureus World Sports Academy Member and pole vault legend Sergey Bubka said: “It’s a testament to the importance of Laureus that more than 100 project leaders and young people are taking part in the Fair Play Summit. Sport has such huge potential to help transform young lives and it is essential that we do all we can to help young people through sport to address social challenges and inactivity. This Summit is a great example of how the Laureus global network brings projects and leaders together to share experiences and knowledge and to help young people around the world.”
The event, supported by the Youth in Action Programme of the European Union, included interactive networking sessions, enabling participants from across Europe to widen their social and professional contacts, and sports based workshops showcasing the latest good practice in the use of sport as a social tool. The workshops promoted fair play, peace building, team building and health education and also analysed how sport could be used to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Speaking about the Summit as a whole one of the Track Academy participants, Bashir Mohamed, said: "We've experienced different cultures, different people, different sports projects over the past three days, all so we can come together, to unite, to make sport the best it can be to help make change for good. The football has been a great way of bringing people together. It was a great ice breaker."
And Rubel Ahmed, who led one of the successful training classes, said: "The training has been a great opportunity for people to share ideas about using sport to promote social inclusion and mentoring. People have been really inspired by the message that sport can be more than just a source of competition.”