Faith, Sports and Business Worlds team-up to tackle social ills

On October 5-7,2016,  Pope Francis welcomed close to two-hundred participants from all faiths to the Vatican for the purpose of creating a global movement around the theme of “Sport at the Service of Humanity”. Njeri Rionge, CEO & President of Toronto based NRBC facilitated a session on the role the Private Sector can play in promoting the Declaration of Principles by making a concrete contribution to promote “the sporting gospel”

In a world which weighed down by rising levels of corruption, inequality and hopelessness, faith and sport can be harnessed to serve a greater good. Sport can be a tremendous tool for bringing people together at global, national and community levels. The excellence and joy that sports instils is at the core of our shared humanity. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the meeting convenor and president of the Pontifical Council for Culture observed: “Sport is also of such fundamental important for education, allowing young people especially to open up to the trials of live, putting themselves to the test, crossing boundaries, meeting opponents on a levels playing field while striving to be the best they can be, in some sense, aiming for the Transcendent.” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said: “Sport and faith can help us….. by driving social change and fostering tolerance, understanding an peace.” The President of the International Olympic Committee Mr Thomas Bach echoed these sentiments, “values shared by sport and faith is the respect for the dignity and equality of all human beings. For in sport, like in faith, we are all equal”.

Njeri Rionge, CEO & President of Toronto based NRBC facilitated a session on the role the Private Sector can play in promoting the Declaration of Principles by making a concrete contribution to promote “the sporting gospel”. Participants encouraged the sharing of lessons learnt from companies that have successfully working to engage marginalized youth to promote best practices in this regards. Some of the companies present such as Allianz, a founding partner to the initiative, have considerable experience in this regard.

Key recommendations include:

  1. That companies champion internal sport ambassadors within their respective organizations that are linked to external sport role models to be mutually reinforcing and inspirational.
  2. That Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts are driven by compassion to support involvement through volunteerism that reaches into our communities. This needs to be anchored within employee performance systems to incentivize engagement with marginalized groups through a variety of moral boosting efforts that benefit both internal and external partners.
  3. That sustainability is a vital component to ensuring wholesome connectedness that benefits all human beings. Surely, 75 million unemployed persons is not sustainable. Therefore, business development efforts should be directed towards addressing community engagement and sport activities that support sustainable growth and engage all in beneficial community service.
  4. That the use of human capital and strategic involvement are seen as the central pillars upon which to base CSR efforts within participating companies.
  5. That innovation and technology be used to create environmentally friendly tools for Sports as a Service to Humanity through initiatives such as 3D digital printing and the use of other emerging technologies that can be cascaded throughout the world through various CSR initiatives. Giving “The Right To Play!” a world at large.

A follow-up conference to assess progress made is being planned for 2017.

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