Do sports, not drugs: new UN-backed anti-narcotics programme targets youth

Do sports, not drugs: new UN-backed anti-narcotics programme targets youth

A United Nations-backed programme to use sport to prevent drug use and criminal behaviour among young people was officially launched today with both officials and sports stars stressing the importance of a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

The Global Sport Fund, a partnership of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Qatar National Olympic Committee will provide grants, contributed by the country, to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to sponsor events, youth camps and exhibitions and to hold training seminars for coaches and young people.

“The commitment of all of these athletes to their sport and to being at their best is an example we want to share,” UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said at the launching ceremony in Doha, Qatar’s capital. “Thanks to the generosity of Qatar’s Olympic Committee, we have the opportunity to teach children through sport to learn to live together, play together and make better choices in life.”

The Committee is also providing facilities at its Doha headquarters to house the Fund and the newly opened UNODC office. Dutch footballer Ronald de Boer, midfielder with Qatar’s Al-Rayyan football club, two members of the Qatar National Handball Team and groups of schoolchildren attended the ceremony.

“When you play sport, it’s important to respect yourself, your mind and your body,” Mr. de Boer told his young listeners. “You can’t play well or with focus if you’re involved in drugs or distracted by peer pressure.”

Committee Director General Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani added: “If you can have a healthy and active society because of access to athletics, then you’ve changed the lifestyle through sports and that’s a good thing. The Global Sport Fund is an opportunity to extend this message to children around the world.”

The Fund is designed to encourage NGOs to be creative in developing sport-related prevention projects that best meet the needs of young people in their communities. Applications from organizations worldwide will be accepted for project proposals beginning on 26 June, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.