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MOSTAFA JELTI talks with Rugby Africa about International Day Of Sport for Development and Peace.

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RUGBY AFRICA: To start off, what does international day of sports for development and peace mean to you?

MOSTAFA JELTI : At the request of the Moroccan NOC, this day was created in 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly. It reflects the importance of sports, which is present in every household with its economic, political, social and above all educational functions.

RA: What is Rugby Ready training?

MJ: The Rugby Ready programme is a support and educational training tool, with its objective being to promote enjoyable and fun playing rugby while minimizing the risk of injury.

Player health is the priority at all levels of the game.

Rugby Ready is also a perfect complement to the programs set up by some World Rugby member unions, with Rugby Africa having very satisfactory numbers of participants – second World Rugby region.

RA: You deliver conferences on the theme of Sports and Peace. Please elaborate on the connection between sport and peace? Can you share examples where sport or more particularly rugby has been used to foster peace?

MJ: Globally, sport has reached a stage of development that no other human activity can boast of. Its impact on societies gives it an incomparable mobilization potential. This unifying power gives it the responsibility of putting itself at the service of peace.

For concrete examples, I will cite the following cases:

•             Fist Ping-pong diplomacy initiated in 1971 between China and the USA

•             The attribution of the 1988 Olympic Games to China (global symbolism)

•             The joint organization of the football world cup in Japan and South Korea (despite the historical disputes and the poisoned relations)

•             The (unsuccessful) joint candidacy of Turkey and Greece for the organization of the European Football Championship (UEFA 2008)

In rugby:

The organization of the 3rd Rugby World Cup in South Africa which has contributed to bringing together the entire population of the country.

The participation of the Libyan National Rugby Team in the Arab 7’S Championship (February 2021) where the team was made up of the 2 “war” regions East and West.

RA: You put a lot of emphasis on the values of rugby. May you please list them and explain why they matter and how they define rugby?

MJ: The values of rugby are solidarity, integrity, respect, passion and discipline. These are ethical and moral benchmarks to which athletes and public opinion must refer; they guide people in their daily lives with a taste for effort and perseverance. It is also a philosophy that transcends all borders in sport, at school, at home and at work. If I had to classify these values, I would put RESPECT first.

RA: The conferences are targeting teachers, unions administrators, students. Does your approach and message differ depending on the targeted groups?

MJ: As a former teacher – the content of the message remains the same, the form differs a little. The ‘speaker’ approach is used with students, players, and administrators. Whilst the ‘moderator’ approach is used with teachers and coaches.

RA: What do you expect your audience to take out of these conferences? If there is one key learning point to remember, what would it be?

MJ: I am trying to convey the following message to my audience:

Every day, around the world, millions of sports competitions (“conflicts”) are organized and supervised at school, university, sports federations, regional confederations, international federations, Olympic committees, etc.

These “conflicts” are instituted by the rule and its respect; they serve, in filigree, to:

•             Bringing competitors closer together rather than dividing them

•             Promote team spirit

•             Solidarity in difficulty

•             Establish equal opportunities

•             Push towards excellence

•             Celebrate merit

•             Convert the rugby player into a good citizen of his country or even of the world.

Please share any other initiatives you have in the pipeline to commemorate such occasions.

I consider schools and universities to be a breeding ground for the development of rugby and I keep close contact with the universities.

Also, I am trying to set up a continental cooperation with the African University Sports Federation (FASU) which will be relayed at the national level by the various federations affiliated to Rugby Africa. In this sense, I host several conferences, each year, on the occasion of the International Day of Sport.

*Jelti is Rugby Africa’s North African Regional Development Officer.

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