The Sport and Active Society development grants were created by the IOC’s Sport and Active Society Commission to further its mission to encourage people everywhere to participate in regular physical activity and to promote the health and social benefits of sport.
In 2016, the Commission awarded four development grants worth USD 20,000 each to organisations running effective sport for all programmes in their communities. Among the winners of the 2016 grants programme was Shooting Touch, a Boston-based sport-for-development non-profit organisation that uses basketball to educate and empower young people around the world. Shooting Touch wasted no time in putting its grant to good use with the organisation of a 3v3 basketball tournament to tackle gender-based violence.
The tournament took place on 21 January 2017 in the village of Kayonza, in eastern Rwanda, and brought together some 400 people. In addition to 100 players, the event also attracted some 300 spectators, among them members of Kigali media, players from the national basketball team, health practitioners and local Shooting Touch partner organisations. Organisers took advantage of the field of play and the captive audience to use it as a platform to explicitly raise awareness of gender-based violence. Mobilising the players and spectators, four speakers, both women and men, spoke about gender-based violence and sexual assault and identified strategies and tactics that victims and others can use to prevent and respond to such behaviour. In addition to speakers, members of the organisation distributed some 300 information pamphlets, while other participants distributed magazines, notebooks and bracelets. A survey was conducted at the end of the tournament to assess what information participants had retained about gender-based violence, with encouraging results.
“The support and endorsement from the IOC has been so helpful in sustaining and building our capacity in Rwanda,” said Lindsey Kittredge from Shooting Touch. “As a funding partner, the IOC enables us to sustain and grow our programmes’ ability to use our courts as extensions of the classroom and teach our youth lifesaving information they normally wouldn't receive. The power of sport and its incredible ability to mobilise kids and raise their awareness on critical public health topics like gender-based violence. We are hopeful that other international funding partners will join us and leverage the IOC's support so that we can expand our model throughout Rwanda and Africa."
Commenting on this event and Shooting Touch’s initiative, Sam Ramsamy, the Chair of the IOC’s Sport and Active Society Commission, said “I am thrilled to see a fantastic and tangible example of how sport can be used as a tool to combat social issues from one of our 2016 Development Grants winners, Shooting Touch. Gender-based violence is an important and global issue and I applaud Shooting Touch for using a tournament to raise awareness while engaging members of the community in a fun and relaxed environment.”The IOC Sport and Active Society Commission works to increase the accessibility of sport as a right for all, and engages with society to build on the sporting legacy of the Olympic Games and other major events. It is also responsible for activities related to the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020, specifically those related to the promotion of active lifestyles in society, in particular among young people.