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The Importance of Sports Participation: Why Should We Get Involved?

The Right of Every Child to Play and Engage in Sports


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UNICEF Viet Nam\Truong Viet Hung

For many people worldwide, sports and play are inseparable and vital components of childhood. Through play, children develop the ability to explore, invent, and create. They also develop social skills, learn to express emotions, and become more confident in their abilities. However, for children who lack opportunities to learn and grow through sports and play, important childhood experiences are lost.

Play in all its forms is a right of every child. Activities that use and teach safe and inclusive sports improve children’s lives. Children around the world naturally enjoy playing, especially sports. Sports appeal to all children, even those from the poorest and most disadvantaged backgrounds, who always desire to play and enjoy their childhood.

Childhood is a crucial phase in a person’s life, forming the foundation for development and lifelong learning. Research shows that childhood is the most important stage for brain development, and experiences in early years have a lasting impact on health and mental development more than any other stage.

Throughout a child’s life, sports and play are valuable for enhancing health and preventing diseases, improving communication skills, learning abilities, and social interactions that games can create.

Reasons to Play:

Sports are a powerful social tool that unites people from various ethnicities, cultures, religions, languages, and socio-economic backgrounds.
Sports play a vital role in improving physical and mental health while promoting active citizenship and social inclusion.
Sports are an excellent starting point for promoting education based on life skills and healthy lifestyles, including values about physical fitness, proper nutrition, and making health-positive choices.
Evidence shows that sports and play enhance children’s development and learning, encouraging better academic performance.
Sports encourage and improve physical fitness and reduce obesity in children: Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Evidence indicates that regular participation in physical activities and sports provides everyone, regardless of ability, with numerous physical, social, and mental health benefits.
Sports enhance the self-esteem of adolescent girls and create opportunities for girls to develop against gender-related barriers.
Sports can build communities, address conflicts, and promote understanding and support among groups that have been or are currently in conflict.
Sports can be used to promote a safe and protective environment for children while teaching young people how to resolve conflicts non-violently.
Sports activities can be low-cost and utilize local resources.
(Source: UNICEF)

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