In 2013, the World tennis No.1 Novak Djokovic and the founder of the Novak Djokovic Foundation, had the honor to address the UN General Assembly on behalf of the world’s athletes and thank them for recognizing April 6th as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace ( IDSDP). Djokovic’ war-torn background made him a true representative of how sport can help people overcome adversity and win the game of life.
To promote the values and potential of sport, 6 April was declared the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) by the UN General Assembly. Although, the UN has identified sport’s true potential in the promotion of peace and development, it wasn’t until August 23rd, 2013, that sport would get a worldwide recognition.
Having a unique power to attract, mobilize and to inspire, sport plays a significant role as a promoter of social integration and economic development and it is a powerful tool for strengthening social ties and networks. It promotes ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, tolerance, nonviolence, and justice.
The Novak Djokovic Foundation honors 6th of April every year either through video campaigns raising awareness of importance of sport or by organizing sporting events for children. Through an uncompromising global leadership of our Founder, Novak Djokovic, our goal is to teach children sporting values that can help them grow up and develop to their full potential.
Novak Djokovic’s Speech at the UN General Assembly
On a hot summer day of August 23, 2013 Novak Djokovic made his way to the international United Nations HQ on the East River, Manhattan. Because of the unparalleled game of tennis in 2012/2013, Djokovic was invited to address the UN General Assembly on behalf of all the world’s athletes. His war-torn background marked him a true representative of how sport can help people overcome adversity and win the game of life.
It is a real honor to address the United Nations, and to be given the exceptional privilege to speak on behalf of the global family of athletes on this historic day.
I was born and raised in a small but proud country that has gone through difficult times in the last decades. It was during that period of hardship that sports became an integral part of my life: everything changed for me when I saw Pete Sampras triumph at Wimbledon. He became my idol. I dreamt of being just like him, the number one tennis player in the world.
It took me thirteen years to achieve my goal. It was a long journey, and it was not mine alone.
I hope this International Day will motivate each of us to invest, in every way possible, additional efforts in cultivating the intrinsic sporting values, such as fair-play, teamwork, and respect for opponents. These are universal. Every successful society is built on them. The more we instill respect and appreciation for these in ourselves, the better world we will be leaving to our successors, said Djokovic.
Sport Is Not about Winning, It Is about Being Part of Something Great
For Djokovic, sport is not about winning. It is about participating and being part of something greater than he is. For the tennis No.1, sport is a source of well-being, connection and belonging.
When we play sport, we all feel that sense of belonging to the game we are playing and to one another. Nothing else but the game and the team we are playing for – exists. All those cultural, racial and gender boundaries are getting broken down and what is left are the best possible human values at play: respect for the one another, acceptance of binding rules, teamwork and fair-play.
By gaining importance in the world of economy and international politics, sport has become integral to everyday life. In a political and social context, sport has even more power. It reaches out to those most in need and helps them to overcome adversity by building and strengthening their character. Slowly but surely, sport has become an essential part of customs and habits of each and every nation.
The founder of the Olympic Movement, Pierre de Coubertin, once said that “peace could be the product only of a better world; a better world could be brought about only by better individuals; and better individuals could be developed only by the give and take, [“¦] the stress and strain, of free competition.”
But competition is not only about besting one’s opponent; it’s not just about trophies and medals, either. It is a form of personal empowerment, an internal pursuit of excellence, and a healthy, wholesome way to discipline your mind and body. “– Novak Djokovic
Sport Prepares Us to Battle Obstacles in Our Own Lives
If we work hard and believe in ourselves, there is nothing we cannot achieve. When we fall down, sport teaches us how to get up, dust ourselves up, and move on because another obstacle will soon present itself and we need to be prepared to bounce back and overcome it.
We learn to always be ready to change our game, to adapt to the playing field and to anticipate what our opponents will do next so that we may counteract. Doesn’t that sound a lot like something we do every day, away from the sport field? Doesn’t that sound like life?
Through his philanthropic and global activism in Early Childhood Education and Development, Djokovic also recognizes the social benefits of sports for the children’s development and building of the positive character traits:
More and more children now have the chance to get a head start through access to pre-school education and sporting facilities, which unleashes their creative energy and channels it in a positive direction.
They also learn to work together for a common purpose; they get off the streets and away from drugs and crime, and their horizons begin to expand.
I’ve seen how fast they progress, and how they start believing in themselves. Their self-confidence grows by the day as they learn that improvement and success come only with hard work, and that they won’t get anywhere if they give up in the face of adversity. – Novak Djokovic
Benefits of Sport for Child’s Development
- – Children’s characters and moral principles get formed through fair play.
- – They learn to view competitions on and off the field as opportunities to learn from their successes and failures.
- – They build positive images of themselves and others
- – They learn about unity and acceptance of others regardless of their nationality, religion, culture, or skin color.
- – They adopt healthy lifestyle from an early age
- – They are less likely to be on the streets if they play sports and are among others who promote good values
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
Novak Djokovic Foundation will commemorate this year’s International Day of Sport by organizing a series of workshops for preschool aged children where they will learn balance, ball play and proper coordination. They will also have the chance to meet other successful athletes who will teach them few tricks that helped them on the court.
Our goal in commemorating International Day of Sport is to teach children sporting values that can help them grow up and develop to their full potential. Follow our news and social media channels for updates on the event.