Experiencing the Power of Sport – It Really can Change the World
“Sport has the power to change the world“
-Nelson Mandela, Laureus World Sports Awards 2000, Monaco
I think about it like this. Sport has the power to change people, therefor it has the power to change the world.
There is so much to learn from competing in sport or exercising towards a goal. One of the biggest advantages of sport is that it teaches one to love yourself. To have respect for yourself and your own abilities. Every person needs self-respect in order to respect other people. For the world to become a better place, we need to have compassion for each other and understand each other’s needs and fears.
I recently saw how sport changed an entire company. Specifically, the middle-aged, hardworking woman. I arrived at a big firm in the winelands, way younger than the rest of my colleagues. I gave that the reason for me not understanding the culture of the firm. There was a real morbid and depressing atmosphere with life-less people. Soon I discovered that I was the only one doing ANY form of exercise…….in the whole building.
It started in my own department with me sharing what sport meant to me in my life. The team looked confused and disgusted when I asked why they don’t exercise. As if I was crazy asking the question. “We have children. We don’t have time for ourselves.” Would be the answer. “You wouldn’t understand because you don’t have children”. I thought that the replies were valid and to be honest, I was too scared to think about mentioning the subject again.
For the next few months I just kept my mouth shut and did my work. I hated every moment of working there because I didn’t have anything in common with the ladies and they were resenting me for being young, energetic and enjoying life. I just kept on being myself – which meant spending a lot of time exercising and participating in any sport activity I could get myself into. Tennis, netball, jogging, swimming and golfing. They thought I was crazy.
Strangely enough they started reaching out. Started taking interest in my story of what sport meant to me. They wanted to look fit and feel healthy and happy. They just needed a bit of encouragement. Something or someone pushing them over the first 100 meters into a new lifestyle.
One by one, they started exercising. I have never seen such a radical change in so many people’s lives at once. A once depressing atmosphere was filled with laughter, discussions about vitality points and burpee demonstrations. We even got the company to pay the gym membership fees of employees committed to a healthy lifestyle.
Now each one of them are inspiring other moms and struggling woman who forgot what it felt like to do something for themselves. There was light. There was self-respect. There was change.
Sport can change people. And people can change the world.