Category Archives: Conferences

Revisiting and Sustaining Peace

Summers are a good time to catch up on reading, reviewing or preparing for what the new academic year may bring. It is a good time to clear out any unwanted materials, articles or books. Sometimes, I find things that I want to keep or share with others. This Dutch documentary titled, “Peace Beyond Borders,” was released in 2011 and would be an insightful source for a college professor teaching a class on East Africa or international mediation.

Thanks to the International Sports Alliance (formerly the Netherlands Sports Alliance), a sport for development and peace, advocacy group whose representatives I met at a conference in Trinidad and Tobago, I received a copy of the DVD. This documentary illustrates how sport can play a role in creating peaceful dialogues and act as a means for conflict resolution by way of getting two sides to the “negotiating table.” The pursuit of peace is a continuous process of refining assumptions and moving towards a compromise which both sides can tolerate.

Among the books, I have kept and continue to refer to is the 1991 work of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.” I shall not write a book review, but rather recommend it for anyone going through a process of discovery or rehabilitation. There will be those who question definitions or states of peace, but an unknown source stated peace as “it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” Definitely not easy to do and sustain.

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Coaching, Community Development, Conferences, Conflict Resolution, Education, Foreign Policy, International Development, Leadership, Literature Review, Networking, Peace Building, Professional Development, Rehabilitation

My Evolution as a Developmental Coach

Today happens to be my Mom’s birthday and the month in which Mothers are celebrated, among other national and international awareness activities (such as Mental Health Awareness Month). To readers of my blog, I hope you have a few minutes to read this post.

I’ve made a couple of references to my parents on this blog largely because I know it is thanks to them and many others, that I am able to stay healthy, volunteer my time with causes I care about and explore new places and things.

The video above is a culmination of my journey in squash. I have enjoyed every moment of playing, coaching and volunteering in squash at various levels, as well as being a team member on winning and losing teams.

I plan to stay physically active with and without squash, as it definitely keeps me well and balanced. Thanks, Mom and Happy Birthday!

 

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Community Sport: What are Transferable Methodologies and Approaches?

The 2016 Olympics in Rio has generated terrific event in the Greater Boston area, like the one I attended yesterday with guest speakers such as Ellen Minzer, World Champion rower and award-winning coach. From her experience at elite levels of rowing and more recently as a coach to athletes with disabilities preparing for the Paralympics in Rio, Coach Minzer highlighted the importance of social inclusion in sport.

Among Coach Minzer, many coaching roles she serves as the Director of Outreach with Community Rowing Inc a sport-based youth development program based in Boston. In listening to Coach Minzer presentation, I began to see linkages in the aspirations of what Kidsquash was striving for in Boston and Khelshala in India. Comparisons can be made in community sport – such as rowing and squash – though executed differently by athletes during competition.

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Squash is mostly an individual sport in that during competition on the court it is one versus one, although there are team events too such as doubles squash with two versus two. Rowing is more of a team sport although there can be events with single sculling. The question for program directors of sport-based youth development programs from different community sports becomes what best practice in coaching rowing can be applied to squash or vice versa? What coaching methodologies do coaches use with differently aged and abled athletes? What coaching philosophies or approaches can program directors help to implement?

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These questions have societal consequences for all stakeholders in sport and beyond. This is why it is important to create more qualified coaches such as Coach Minzer who gives back to the sport, no matter what the level of the athletes, as they can help raise standards in community sport practice and participation. The Institute of Athletic Coach Education at Boston University is a fantastic resource for program directors and coaches to begin or enhance their professional development with sport-based youth development programs.

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Representing Khelshala and Kidsquash at the United Nations Headquarters

Over the past few days, I was fortunate to attend the 3rd International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee led the opening session of the Forum. Here is the official UN press release.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee leading the opening session.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee leading the opening session.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee leading the opening session.

As a member of the International Sport for Development and Peace Association, I attended the forum to represent Khelshala (India) and Kidsquash (USA) to learn, connect and collaborate with others working in the field of sport for development and peace. An informal meeting of practitioners, researchers and educators provided an opportunity for networking as well as an avenue for sharing updates on university programs, research and sport-based youth development initiatives.

There were several references made by Mr. Wilfred Lemke, UN Special Advisor on Sport, on the role of volunteerism in sport as a means to activate young people. As a former United Nations Volunteer, I believe this would be a valuable experience for aspiring development professionals. Thanks to the organizers of the event it was an opportunity to learn from the nuances in high-level, policy discussions as well as be at the forefront to mainstream sport-for development programming in the United Nations systems and beyond.

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Sharing Community Squash Lessons for Latin America and Caribbean Region

I was recently invited to Havana, Cuba where I was privileged and honored to give a presentation as a panelist in the International Workshop on Physical Activity and Quality of Life at CubaMotricidad. Since there were multiple seminars being held simultaneously, our session opened with a presentation on the United Nations Population Fund’s global and regional approach to an aging population and implications of quality of life for the elderly.

United Nations Special Envoy for Sport for Development and Peace addressing delegates in Havana, Cuba.

United Nations Special Envoy for Sport for Development and Peace addressing delegates in Havana, Cuba.

One may wonder how does a program like Kidsquash that focuses on children between the ages of 8 to 17 apply to the elderly and quality of life? The core of my presentation was to share lessons from the Kidsquash model to improve access to physical activity and promote well-being with an eye for global replication that could be adapted to meet the population needs of a host country.

My fellow panelists presented physical activity, community-based interventions in Finland, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia across age a variety of age levels.  While there were differences for each countries’ experience, the common theme that emerged from our session and the conference at large, was that planned, coordinated and targeted physical activity, community interventions can play a key role in making a better world.  In the case of Kidsquash and other programs balancing issues of social entrepreneurship, volunteerism and sustainability are critical.

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Coaching, Community Development, Conferences, Education, Leadership, Networking, Private Public Partnerships, Professional Development, Recreation, Squash, Stakeholder Engagement

Change the Game Conference: Sport System re-Design

As the Director of Kidsquash, I was fortunate to attend a thoughtful, inspiring and engaging conference called Change the Game on how to improve outcomes in sport-based youth development programs.  Stepping back from the world of squash and learning best practices from other sport programs helped to rethink how to better serve the Kidsquash community.

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To use the language of “sport system re-design,” is new but changes to sports by way of playing area, equipment, structure, rules or roles has a long history as learned by the above historical milestones, created by conference organizers. Even in high school squash- a minor sport – re-design has happened in terms of Point-A-Rally scoring to 11 points as opposed to the British scoring of 9 points. There is debate in the squash community as to whether this has been a step in the right direction.

As per the stories of conference speakers, winning people over to the re-Design involves a multitude of strategies and requires patience. Overall, I came away from the conference with a toolkit to take time to bounce ideas off other practitioners in the field of sport-based youth development as well as reflect on Kidsquash’s strengths, weaknesses and outcomes. Hopefully this process will fuel additional action to get the re-Design of Kidsquash “just right.”

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Filed under Capacity Buidling, Coaching, Community Development, Conferences, Education, Grant Making, Leadership, Networking, Squash, Stakeholder Engagement, Youth Development, Youth Sport

Advancing the Field of Sport for Development and Peace

Thanks to my International Sport for Development and Peace Association colleagues Sarah Hillyer (Georgetown University) and Eli Wolff (Brown University), I was able to attend the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) Symposium titled “Sport for Development and Peace: Initiatives, Challenges, and Pathways Forward.” To view the presentations click here.

The field of sport for development and peace is still relatively young and aiming to achieve legitimacy from the mainstream international development community. Nonetheless, it was welcoming to see AAPHERD host this event. Furthermore, many of the academics involved in this field are scholar-activists, working on the cutting-edge of research and practice both in the United States and around the world. In listening to the presentations, I was reminded by the quote from cultural anthropologist – Margaret Mead, who stated “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.“

As with most conferences, one must find ways to take away the information that will add value to the organizations in which one serves. As a coach who works with young people, the three big “take-aways” were: designing positive sport-based experiences, the importance of pedagogy and leveraging support networks. Each of these requires skill, patience and coordination that can be developed over time. In short, to advance this field more awareness is necessary starting with coaches, teachers, administrators and parents.

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