Rugby legends Sean Fitzpatrick and Francois Pienaar, and World Cup Winner Lilian Thuram, made a flying visit to the University of St Andrews this week (Tuesday 28 November 2017) to support a global initiative aimed at using the power of sport to improve the lives of millions of people.
The sports stars attended an event hosted by University Principal Professor Sally Mapstone and staged by the Sport at the Service of Humanity Foundation and the International Sports Promotion Society Handa.
In addition to Fitzpatrick, Pienaar and Thuram, speakers at the event were Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Vatican Pontifical Council for Culture (PCC) and Dr Haruhisa Handa, Chair of ISPS Handa. The Vatican was the driving force behind the establishment of the SSH Foundation, and ISPS Handa is the first Global patron of the foundation.
The Sport at the Service of Humanity Foundation was created to grow the movement which arose from a 2016 Vatican conference promoting the benefits of sport in enriching people’s lives.
At the event today, Bishop Paul Tighe spoke about these benefits: “The Vatican PCC, in conjunction with the SSH Foundation and its partners, celebrate the value of sport, its capacity to bring joy to participants and observers, to promote physical and mental well-being, and to create bridges between people.”
The Sport at the Service of Humanity Foundation was established as an independent foundation in 2017 to promote these goals. Working with global partners, it has inspired and supported initiatives with sport organizations, educational institutions and governments, and other non-profits to promote the values of sport and faith.
“In our first year, we have been greatly encouraged by the way our partners have taken the values and principles of our movement, and inspired the lives of the millions of people that they touch. We are excited about ISPS Handa’s support moving forward,” said Chris Lang, CEO of the SSH Foundation.
Under its Global Patron initiative, ISPS Handa will be supporting the development of a Youth Mentoring Program where key global leaders in various sectors of sport, education and non-profit will work with youth leaders to help them develop their skills to succeed in life.
“We are very proud today to be appointed the first Global Patron of the Foundation, and especially excited to be involved in a programme that supports mentoring for young leaders,” said Dr Haruhisa Handa today, Founder and Chairman of the International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS Handa).
“We believe that sport has the power to inspire, transform and unite people across social, racial and socio-economic barriers. The SSH Foundation is a partner that shares these values with us. We look forward to working with them to change the lives of young people.”
Sean Fitzpatrick, who is also Chair of the prestigious Laureus Foundation, took part in the Vatican Conference and has maintained his support for SSH: “The values they promote chime perfectly with Laureus’ own view on how sport can make a difference,” he said.
“There is so much we can do through the sport we love, and which gave us so much pleasure as well as opportunity.”
Lilian Thuram, who flew in from Paris to recognise the commitment of Dr Handa to SSH, founded the Lilian Thuram Foundation to tackle racism.
“Helping young leaders tackle the major issues of our times is invaluable,” he said. “You have to explain to children that we are not born racist. We become racist because racism is a cultural thing. It is time to consider ourselves, first and foremost, as human beings. And whether in sport or in faith, SSH is built on the greatest values we can adhere to as human beings.”
The University of St Andrews and the SSH Foundation have committed to exploring opportunities to work together in the areas of sport and development. The University also has an existing relationship with Dr Handa, who is a generous supporter of the University’s world-leading Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, now known as the Handa CSTPV.
At the launch, St Andrews student Maddie Tarr spoke of her experience with the Volunteer Zambia project, which offers students the opportunity to add value to their University education by working alongside Zambian non-government organisation, Sport in Action, to deliver school PE lessons, community sports programmes and health awareness workshops within deprived areas of Lusaka.
Maddie commented: “Spending the summer with Volunteer Zambia has become somewhat of a tradition in the University Basketball Club and I’m extremely grateful to my teammates for encouraging me to go.
“Spending each day with incredible and inspiring Zambian peers, as well as the kids from the community completely reshaped my world views, personal life goals and skills. Aside from the honour of representing my University, I had the privilege to pass on my knowledge of culture, English and basketball to some truly incredibly loving children. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to have this transformative experience and am grateful for the professional skills of flexibility, preparedness and adaptability I learned along the way.”
Top (front row): Dr Haruhisa Handa is pictured with Principal Professor Sally Mapstone and launch event attendees
Bottom (from left): Lilian Thuram, Sean Fitzpatrick and Francois Pienaar with Principal Professor Sally Mapstone
About Sport at the Service of Humanity
Inspired by His Holiness Pope Francis, Sport at the Service of Humanity is a global movement dedicated to promoting the positive values of ALL faith and sport to unite communities, inspire youth and better serve humanity. Inspired by His Holiness Pope Francis, Sport at the Service of Humanity was launched in October 2016 when the Pontifical Council for Culture hosted the first global conference on Faith & Sport at the Vatican. This gathering brought together global thought leaders and influencers from different religions, sports organisations and businesses to discuss how faith and sport could work together for the betterment of the world.
About ISPS Handa
The International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS Handa) was founded by the Japanese philanthropist, Dr Haruhisa Handa, in 2006 to further the transformative power of sport across the globe and to support charitable causes in the sporting world. ISPS Handa funds and promotes a wide range of sporting events in archery, bowling, boxing, football, golf, polo, rowing, rugby and swimming, with an emphasis on blind and disabled golf. ISPS believes passionately in the power of sport to educate and inspire individuals, especially youth, to effect social change. Dr Handa is a successful entrepreneur, artist, author, scholar and thought leader and he is committed to supporting humanitarian and cultural programmes which will transform and inspire the human spirit. He has also supported inter-faith collaboration and understanding through various charitable organisations.