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“The Right Paths to Integration and Success of Young African Athletes”

13 May 2014
“The Right Paths to Integration and Success of Young African Athletes”

Message by the Acting Director-General Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

“The Right Paths to Integration and Success of Young African Athletes”
Palais des Nations, Room XIV
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at 10:00 a.m.

Delivered on the Director-General’s behalf by
Mr. David A. Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet

Distinguished Ambassadors,
Distinguished Panellists
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my privilege to represent the Acting Director-General, Mr. Michael Møller, who regrets that he cannot be with you today, and I am pleased to deliver his message at this important conference:

“Sport is a powerful tool to facilitate integration in new communities. It allows for more informal interaction and teambuilding that helps to foster trust and tolerance. It breaks down prejudice and preconceived ideas, and opens for dialogue. Nowhere is this more needed than in the context of migration, and sport has long been recognized as an important tool in this respect.

The challenges faced by African migrant athletes, seeking to build their careers in a new country or continent are much less well-known and deserve greater attention. Exploitation, abuse and discrimination are all too often the reality that faces young athletes when their talent should be enriching both their sport and their new communities.

The focus of today’s event on the need to ensure the integration and success of young African athletes is therefore both timely and necessary, and I commend the initiative of the Permanent Mission of Italy and the efforts of the Group of Friends for Sport for Development and Peace to generate a more nuanced debate on this topic.

Ensuring the well-being and protecting the rights of young African athletes requires commitment – and investment – at all levels and by all stakeholders. Above all, it requires awareness and preventive measures, and it requires viable alternatives for integration if the original dream cannot be fulfilled.

I am therefore particularly pleased that this event is supported by our regional partners and by the International Organization for Migration because an inclusive partnership is needed. The involvement of the partners in today’s event demonstrates the readiness to do this as a truly collaborative effort. As a civil society organization, Foot Solidaire has shown how valuable activities and leadership at the grassroots level can be, and I appreciate that they are with us today to share their experience.

Sport and migration – in different ways – are forces for development. It is a shared responsibility to ensure that this potential is realized, and it is my hope that today’s conference can help us to find practical ways of doing just that. As a global platform for the promotion of peace, rights and well-being for all, International Geneva is particularly well-placed to host this debate, which I hope will be continued well beyond the meeting room today.

I extend my best wishes for a most fruitful debate.”

That was the end of the Acting Director-General’s message.

I appreciate the opportunity to be with you this morning and wish you very productive discussions.

Thank you very much.