Fundamental Principle Number 4 of the Olympic Charter as of 8 August 2021 states: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
The Union of the Comoros, consisting of three islands located in the Indian Ocean and Mozambique Channel, between the Eastern African coast and Madagascar, highly values the importance that sports plays for their inhabitants’ well-being. The beautiful, diverse landscape of the island state (mountains, coastlines, ocean, etc.) offers numerous possibilities for practicing different sports. Therefore, the state government sports policy follows the plan “to turn the Comoros into the islands of all sports and sports for all”.
However, with the national governance level primarily focusing on soccer as preferred sports activity, the 54 Communes of the Comoros identified the need for diversifying and professionalising the sports offer for all inhabitants. Consequently, a local movement was established, led by the Institut Comorien Pour La Formation des Élus (ICFE), to establish Sports Offices in all Communes of the Union of the Comoros. A particular focus is placed on the professionalisation of these Offices by providing local representatives with a profound education that they need for their future role. In line with this ambitious goal, a cooperation between the ICFE and International Centre was established to provide the local Comorian level with an online capacity-building workshop focusing on the promotion of human rights and social cohesion/inclusion by means of sports, with a particular emphasis placed on the inclusion of children/youth and girls/women.
On 4 July 2022, the International Centre conducted this online capacity-building workshop together with Thomas Rajakovics, head of the Municipal Sports Office of the City of Graz, in cooperation with the Comorian project partner Loukmann Said El Hadi, president of the ICFE. The working languages were French and German, and the whole team was kindly supported by two interpreters guaranteeing a problem-free communication between participants and facilitators. The workshop’s objective was to provide the workshop participants with theoretical and practical expertise on promoting human rights and social inclusion by means of planning and implementing inclusive sports offers in their respective Communes. The Toolkit for Urban Inclusion in Arab Cities’ methodology, in particular chapter three on “Sports for Youth Inclusion”, served as basis for the workshop. In this regard, workshop participants and facilitators were lucky to have Mr. Abdelaziz Zaki, Science National Professional Officer of the UNESCO Cairo Office and one of the primarily responsible persons for the development of the Toolkit, opening the workshop by addressing welcoming introductory words at this gathered group of experts.
The very interactive workshop atmosphere allowed for a fruitful climate. Workshop participants were provided with the experience of the Municipal Sports Office of Graz on how to establish a sport offer for all citizens, and the expertise of the International Centre on how to include a human rights-based approach in local sports policy-making. With this know-how basis, participants managed to develop their own strategic plan for the specific Comorian local context: the establishment of a pilot project with little economic means between several Communes, focusing on three main sporting activities, namely swimming, biking and running, which shall be provided to the citizens, as well as turned into an Olympic discipline, the triathlon.
The workshop procedure resonated with all participants which was mirrored in their feedback. They stated that they felt self-empowered by finally having developed a clear vision and concept on how to proceed with their local sports plan.
The project was kindly financially supported by the Land Steiermark, Abteilung 9 Kultur, Europa, Sport, Referat Europa und Internationales
FairStyria – Entwicklungszusammenarbeit.
 International Olympic Committee (2021) Olympic Charter. Lausanne: Maison Olympique, p. 8. [https://stillmed.olympics.com/media/Document%20Library/OlympicOrg/General/EN-Olympic-Charter.pdf?_ga=2.31821943.891383345.1658908740-815719633.1658908740]