In 2020, Peace and Sport was eager to reward individuals and organizations that have continued to use sport to serve communities and to promote peace through best practices in sport. Despite challenging times, sport remained essential to promote values such as respect, unity and solidarity.
In 2021, Sport for Development and Peace actors kept playing a fundamental role in bringing hope and courage to the most vulnerable communities. To conclude this year of inspiring stories and concrete and ambitious field actions, Peace and Sport organised the second edition of the Peace and Sport digital Awards and reward outstanding initiatives. Through the Awards we have the opportunity to discover different peace-through-sport practices, while behind the Awards, there are committed change makers who are making a real difference in their communities.
Last March WRF singed a partnership with Peace and Sport and immediately decided to take part to the 6th April initiative: on this day we celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace and WRF decided to follow Peace and Sport raising the WhiteCard. As a reference to the yellow and the red card in the sporting world, the #WhiteCard invites not to punish but to promote peace.
3 months later we had the opportunity to be back together after the challenging time due to the Covid-19 outbreak: at the World Rafting Championship in L’Argentière-la-Bessée, in the French Alps, 226 rafters from 19 countries met the Peace and Sport Champion forpeace Marlène Harnois, taekwondo Olympic medalist and, who shared her story and explained the WhiteCard symbol to the athletes.
We know that this is only the beginning of a fruitful joint path between WRF and PS and we hope that this award is one of the first steps of a common growth, bearing in mind that behind the Awards, there is positive change through sport!
Today Peace and Sport, after the launching of the Peace and Sport Awards 2021 held by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, announced that WRF is officially the winner of “April6 Initiative of the Year”. On the podium the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cape Verdean Olympic Committee.
The WRF President declared:
“Sport does not only bring entertainment and physical health. It is a transversal engine of society. It is a tool for social inclusion that teaches us the values and the beauty of difference. Sport empowers the individual and the society in an exponential way. I warmly thank all the people sustaining Peace and Sport for the daily commitment they put in their activities, for a better world. On the other side I thank the World Rafting people who took part in this project, everyone who raised the WhiteCard with us, from the 6th April initiative to the World Championship, and took part in this project. We are honoured to receive this Award, especially after the recently signed partnership with Peace and Sport in March: in a few months we proved that our values are concrete and I am proud of the WRF movement”
On 6th April 5 WRF athletes shared their different and unique stories raising this powerful symbol, spreading awareness all around the world.
We grow together: Nicole Plagemann paddling in a mix team
The World Rafting Federation introduced the mix teams format to promote gender equality, through the dynamic and strategic RX discipline: 2 women and 2 men choose their position on the raft depending on the specific abilities of the team; rafting requires collaboration in decision making, therefore the athletes improve the consciousness of the peculiar strength and techniques of every teammate, giving birth to a new dimension of balance.
“ When we paddle in a mix rafting team we celebrate differences and we give birth to a new perspective for every teammate, discovering the river from another viewpoint and, consequently, new parts of ourself. Inclusion make us lean together taking the sport to another level. We discover the river from another viewpoint and, consequently, new parts of ourself.”
Always moving forward: Para-Rafting for Massimiliano Giandinoto
Rafting as a team sport is a tool for social inclusion. Para-Rafting teams display the combination of 2 normo and 2 para athletes: they chose the positions on the raft depending on the complementary abilities of every teammate who therefore discovers her/his potential and improves the strengths.
“When we are on the same boat we break boundaries, we build bridges and we paddle under them in search of adventure. I consider every day as a challenge since my foot has been amputated. When I am paddling with my team, I feel part of something bigger than me. The river makes me feel alive and free: you can choose your line in the rapids while you always move forward.”
Sport is the best teacher: Davide Marcolini and youth empowerment
The values and the dynamics we learn as children are a solid starting point for our viewpoint in life. That is why sport should be a fundamental part of our childhood. Youth empowerment is the empowerment of society, because youth is the foundation of future.
“I started paddling when I was 8 because my dad is a rafting guide. The river teaches us the respect that we owe to nature and the importance of teamwork. We have to learn to cooperate and create a balance on the raft and I am lucky for my early approach to the sport. The values we learn in the river follow us on the ground and in the everyday life: mental and physical strength, planning, adrenaline and respect are the most important things that this sport taught me; and sport is the best teacher.”
The right moment is now: Rebeca Fernandes strengthening the female gender
The ultimate goal is to assist in removing barriers preventing women from participating in sport at all levels. The World Rafting Federation is supporting women empowerment and gender equality from athletes, to technicians, guides and administration. We are all different and we are all unique: this has to become a power.
“The right moment for the strengthening of the female gender is now.
The sport and its proposed methods of qualification were developed by male gender majority: I opened a training rafting centre for women where they can feel welcome to develop their own techniques and skills without physical and moral harassment for simply having different anatomy and equipment that do not favour their practices.”
We are all in the same boat: Nikita Zhuravlev and the passion for rafting
The passion that river people share leads to an incredible intercultural understanding. Rafting guides, technicians and athletes, with the support of the World Rafting Federation, learn to cooperate and look forward, with the aim to transform the differences into strength and a starting point for a positive and productive confrontation. Rafting as a team sport is a perfect platform to increase a global cooperation and raise awareness about its benefits.
“The respect we learn from the river makes us similar to each other. I feel more similar to someone doing rafting on the other side of the world than to people I see everyday in the city. That’s the unique power of our sport: we are all in the same boat.
We one big common passion that transforms all the small differences into strength and opportunities.”