Raising the game across generations worldwide
International Youth Day
July 15, Eugene, Oregon, USA – WADA’s athlete outreach program is back in full force after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic and our outreach booth at the World Athletics Championships is bustling. Ben Sandford, Chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee, is on site and engaging with athletes. Simultaneously, back in his hometown of Rotorua, New Zealand, his political campaign is kicking off. The three-time Olympian in skeleton is running for mayor.
After decades of training and competition – while also working as an attorney – he is ready to retire from sports. “I am passionate about sports and what it can do for communities. The challenge for many athletes when they stop competing is finding a new purpose.” For Ben, this seems to be solved. He has been giving back to his community throughout his life, and communities are central to his political program. His athletic career also taught him resilience and the importance of surrounding himself with the right team – all essential in his new endeavour. “Integrity is among the sports values that we can apply in every aspect of our life. As athletes, we constantly face challenges that we need to work through. We need to be resourceful to be competitive. Sports provide a unique opportunity for any young person to have a dream and work towards fulfilling it.”
“Early on, we need to start thinking of what life will look like after competition”, adds Dr. Jeff Porter, American sports business professional, researcher, two-time Olympian in athletics, and member of WADA’s Athlete Committee. “Time management is essential. There are 24 hours in a day, let’s make the most of it. Off season, there is a time gap during which athletes have time to do much more. There is an opportunity for athletes to tackle new projects, and for the global sports system to better equip athletes with skills that they can use beyond their competing years.”
Emma Tehro, five-time Olympian in ice hockey, is highly involved in sports administration, including with WADA and the International Olympic Committee. “I have gained so much from sports and I want to give back. It motivates me to do what I can for future athletes and to help preserve a level playing field”, explains the Finnish athlete, who also has a parallel career in finance and coaches ten-year old kids. “The key value that I want to share with children is respect. I also want to teach them to live up to their own values and not let anyone else tell them what they are capable of”.
“Athletes experience constant failure. It is how we learn to grow and adapt, which is crucial to any career after sports, concludes Jeff. Failure is the greatest teacher.”
Who inspires you to Play True?
Social science research has highlighted the importance of values in driving clean sport behaviour and the fact that from a young age, parents instil strong values in young athletes. Later in their career, coaches are central to reinforcing integrity and fair play, especially in elite athletes.
Our recently launched campaign celebrates athletes’ entourage and the Play True legacy that is transmitted from one generation to the next.
About International Youth Day
Since 2000, International Youth Day has been celebrated annually on 12 August to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society. The Day gives an opportunity to celebrate and emphasize young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.
The objective of this year’s International Youth Day theme, Intergenerational solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages, is to amplify the message that action is needed across all generations to achieve the SDGs and leave no one behind. The 2022 International Youth Day will also raise awareness on certain barriers to intergenerational solidarity, notably ageism, which impacts young and old persons, while having detrimental effects on society as a whole.