On Tuesday, November 19th, IFMA General Secretary, Stephan Fox, joined Right to Play in a powerful panel discussion at the ASEAN Youth Development Workshop for Peace and Leadership. Mr. Fox, a former Muaythai world champion, alongside Right To Play Track and Field Twin Athlete Ambassadors from the UK, Ms. Lina Nielsen and Laviai Nielsen and Ms. Pacharakamon Arkornsakul, a professional badminton athlete and lecturer at Thailand National Sports University Chiangmai Campus spoke on how professional athletes use the power of sport to bring about positive social change to themselves, others and communities.
The General Secretary spoke about the unique power sport has to change the world, unite, include and give hope against all kinds of discrimination in a world that can be so harsh and cold. He commented that in a world where the leaders of the world cannot shake hands, the youth play together in sport and during the Olympics, the world declares Olympic truce when nations stop to fight.
Mr. Fox spoke about the importance of alliances and gave an example from, muaythai, where IFMA’s Sport is your Gang developed a campaign called Kids Help Kids when the devastating Tsunami in 2004 hit Thailand and 40,000 care packages were donated from children all over Thailand to help children affected by the Tsunami. Mr. Fox passed down the wise words from his coach when he won his first title belt, in that “The real belt you win is something no one else sees when you start to give back.”
This panel discussion was a part of a week long Youth Leadership Camp put together by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with Right to Play, the ASEAN Secretariat. Right to play has been working in Thailand since 2002 and are pioneers in using life skills education through the medium of sport and play to educate, protect and empower children. This workshop was an initiative to build the capacity of ASEAN youth across the region. The ASEAN Sports for Development Peace and Leadership project selected 5 youth leaders from each ASEAN Member State and 10 youth leaders from Norway to learn how to integrate life skill into sport and play activities. After the workshop the youth will return to their respective countries to implement projects of their own design to bring about positive social change.