Minister Anroux Marais’ Speech at International Sport and Peace Conference
Themed, “The Power of a Dream”, the 2016 Conference aims to bring together key stakeholders to jointly promote value education and peace through sport as well as to make a difference in leading the world toward greater unity and harmony.
“It gives me great pleasure to address you at the 3rd Cape Town International Sport and Peace Conference and Expo today.
I am especially pleased with this year’s theme, The Power of a Dream. Each day my job allows me to witness how dreams become a reality though cultural affairs and specifically through sport. On a daily basis, I witness how an individual’s circumstances are improved through participation, developing and excelling in their preferred sporting codes and it is not only the individual’s circumstances changed, but that of their families, their communities, provinces and country as well.
I was granted the privilege to personally support our Paralympic team in Rio last week and I cannot begin to express in words the realisation of the power of a dream. For all our athletes, their inclusion into Team SA started as only a dream and today they are the beacons of inspiration, hope and icons of victory, not only for all South Africans but right across the world. Their conscious decision and concerted efforts to hone their sporting skills has not only placed South Africa, and especially the Western Cape, because all but one of the 13 medals already received were won by athletes hailing from this great province, in high esteem on a prestigious international stage. They have created a culture of excellence in sport and have significantly contributed to positive community development as they have become the role models others, specifically our youth, can aspire to. Not only have they once again personified the notion that sport unites and undoubtedly inspires peace, tolerance and acceptance, but they have given us all hope and reignited a renewed culture of being proudly South African, which our beloved country is in dire need of at this point.
I also want to share with you my experience in one of the most notorious favelas in Rio as it speaks directly to how sport can be used as an alternate to violence to bring about peace in an impoverished, drug infested community. For those aware of the situation in Brazilian favelas, you will know it is common practice for 8-17 year olds to be openly armed with rifles, AK 47s and other heavy machine guns to protect drug territories on the streets of their very own communities. One can only imagine the vulnerability the community faces on an hourly basis.
To gain more insight, I visited Luta Pela Paz, translated to Fight for Peace, a Brazilian NPO and NGO which uses sport and education as tools to improve the lives of youth who reside in communities affected by gang-based crime and violence, with the objectives to reduce the incidence of youth involved in those social ills. During my visit, I engaged with the youth involved with the programme and asked what brought them to Fight for Peace. Victoria, a beautiful 21 year old responded that she decided to come to develop her judo skills because she had to protect her mother from her father’s abuse. While conversing on how the programme has impacted their lives, Patrick, a 19 year old, said before joining Fight for Peace, he did not see any need to develop himself in any way because he was going to die in two years’ time in any case. These testimonials will stick with me forever and has highlighted the urgency in which we, all stakeholders, have to partner together to incorporate a culture of sporting participation, develop excellence and create an enabling environment for our youth as an alternate to the anti-social activities dominating our communities. It is pivotal for us, regardless of political affiliation or differing cultural backgrounds, to increase trust, social inclusion, quality education and confidence in government so to contribute to peace, the wellbeing and enrichment of our communities.
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and we have a long way to go, but together we can redress the challenges our communities are plagued with through sport.
I thank you”