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International Inspiration

International_Inspiration_is_empowering_young_in_BangladeshFrom training boxers in Rio’s favelas to rugby programmes in Palestine, Chair of IDS, Lord Richard Newby, outlines the mission to provide an international sports legacy, long after London 2012 is over.

Ever since John Major and Nelson Mandela formed an agreement in 1991 to use sport to enrich the lives of young people and communities across South Africa, UK Sport has been a leading player in international sport development, both directly and by using its government grant-in-aid to service and host International Development through Sport (IDS), the charity which I chair.

The mission of IDS is to harness the power of sport to change lives. Sport for development is our specialism and that means we care about the change, not just the sport.  We invest to show how education, gender equity and health challenges can be addressed through well-designed sports programmes and we have developed strong and mutually beneficial relationships with funding partners such as the Department for International development (DFID), Comic Relief, the Big Lottery and the TOP Foundation as well as with world-leading delivery organisations across three continents. As Chair of IDS I am immensely proud of its achievements. Our guiding principles are as follows:

We recognise the value of working with partners in the UK and overseas

We engage with policy-makers to bring about lasting systemic change

We are committed to supporting teachers and coaches overseas

We want our programmes to empower and enhance the lives of young people

We use sport as a means of achieving the Millennium Development goals

We understand sport and continue to invest in research to demonstrate how sport can make a difference

We are committed to learning – the more we know about how sport can best be used to change lives, the more young people we can influence


In 2009, thanks to funding from the TOP Foundation, IDS embarked on a partnership with the Tanzanian National Sports Council to develop a national sports leadership programme, Beckwith International Leadership Development, which aims to increase participation in sport and improve the future employability of thousands of young people. Almost three years on, the programme has employed over 30 young people full time, trained 10,000 teachers, and reached more than 50,000 young primary school children. The future of the project has been guaranteed by the Tanzanian government and the National Sports Council, and will continue way beyond TOP Foundation funding.

In Zambia we are working with the community based organisation, EduSport, on their Go Sisters programme.  Go Sisters is enriching the lives of young girls and women in communities in Lusaka and Livingstone and, most recently, in the Copperbelt province, giving them the skills and confidence to become leaders in their communities, and offering them education and employment opportunities they would never otherwise have had access to.

IDS projects are many and varied and span many different sports.  We have supported a rugby development programme in Palestine,  assisted in the development of a training manual used by an NGO that trains young boxers in the favellas of Rio, and supported the Courtney Walsh Foundation, which aims to use cricket to help turn around the lives of young people in correctional services in Jamaica.

All of this excellent partnership work and the expertise IDS has garnered over the years has led to a very close connection with London 2012.

The London 2012 Games are fast approaching and they have received a huge amount of press coverage. But while tickets, transport and security are pondered by the British media on an almost daily basis, the international legacy of the Games is often overlooked. International Inspiration is London 2012’s international sports legacy programme. It aims to enrich the lives of 12 million children by giving governments, teachers and coaches in 20 countries the tools to ensure children and young people of all abilities have access to high quality and inclusive physical education.

International Inspiration was developed from the London 2012 bid team’s promise to ‘reach young people all around the world through sport and connect them to the inspirational power of the Games so they are inspired to choose sport.’ It was LOCOG Chair, Lord Sebastian Coe himself, who said those words back in 2005 to secure London the bid, and it was the UK Sport team that took the initial steps with LOCOG and other partners to make the promise a reality.  By using the powerful London 2012 brand and working in partnership  with a fantastic array of organisations including the British Council, UNICEF as well as UK Sport, International Inspiration is using sport to change lives, open doors to self-empowerment and educate young people in countries from Azerbaijan to Zambia about issues such as HIV/AIDS, drugs and gender equality.

There are so many fine examples of the impact this programme is already having internationally. In Bangladesh, a flood-prone country which sees around 17,000 children die from drowning every year, over 80,000 children have learnt vital survival swimming skills from around 750 newly-trained community swimming instructors.

In South Africa, International Inspiration has trained over 100 educators to teach life skills and raise awareness of HIV and AIDS prevention through organised football, netball, rugby and cricket competitions. In a country that is home to 17 per cent of all people in the world living with HIV, the impact of this cannot be overestimated.

Another manifestation of the depth of the programme is International Inspiration’s work with the Nigerian government to develop a landmark school sports policy that will protect the rights of girls and children with disabilities as well as guaranteeing that all new schools built will include space to play sport.

The strength of the programme lies in its three-pronged approach. Working with policymakers, practitioners and participants, International Inspiration is creating long-term, transformational change for young people around the world through and beyond the Games in 2012.

The international endeavours are not the whole story though – International Inspiration also reaches out to young people in the UK. At present, 234 UK schools are linked with schools in other International Inspiration countries, giving UK students the opportunity to learn about different cultures and make friends in the furthest corners of the world.

International Inspiration is delivering on its international legacy promise a year earlier than planned and, having already achieved its vision of reaching 12 million children and young people around the world, will now focus on ensuring the programme is sustainable and will leave a lasting legacy in these countries long after London 2012 is over.

While International Inspiration is creating its legacy in 20 countries, IDS will continue to harness the power of sport to change lives in those same countries and beyond. As Chair of IDS, I am immensely proud that our achievements and our actions in trailblazing international sport for development led to the creation of International Inspiration and that we will continue to harness the power of sport to change lives way beyond 2012. I have no doubt that London 2012 will be a real success as a major sporting event.  However, the real achievements in my eyes will be the international legacy of London 2012 through International Inspiration’s work across 20 countries, and the impetus that the Olympic and Paralympic platform has given to  IDS’ future mission.


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