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Looking for the spark

How will Whistler reach out from its lofty position of advantage to those who are disadvantaged? Glenda Bartosh looks for the answers.

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The simple answer is we are looking for an idea that will generate that spark.”

Resources:

• For information on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ international program, including the Africa Local Governance Program , log onto www.icmd-cidm.ca

Breaking out of the arena

The hidden powers of sport

A soccer tournament in Rwanda will be part of Kristina Molloy for the rest of her life.

“Thousands of people came out. At the end it went to a shoot-out and the fans were just freaking out. It was louder than anything I’d ever heard,” says Molloy.

“They did a huge parade at the end and they hoisted all the players up on their shoulders and were running around the soccer field. It was unbelievable.”

It was all so amazing, not because of the setting in the almost ethereal rolling red-earth hills of Rwanda, or the fans’ wild enthusiasm, or the fact it took place in a refugee camp for 16,000 people.

It was amazing because the players were all girls. And only a few short months before, those same girls — members of traditional cultures that didn’t allow them to take part in such activities — had been so jeered and laughed at as they made their first tentative attempts at playing soccer that Molloy had been moved to tears.

Molloy, currently a coordinator for the 2010 Paralympic Games, is no stranger to the emotional roller-coaster of sports. As a former rowing coach at UBC she’d seen the thrills, the disappointments. But in her year of volunteer work with Right To Play in Rwanda, she witnessed a new dimension to the power of sport and play.

Lillehammer’s legacy

Right To Play sprang out of Olympic Aid, which started at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. The organizing committee there decided that the Games’ legacy should reach beyond gold medals and world records, so that athletes could “give back” through a humanitarian organization.

Olympic Aid was born, a non-profit organization aimed at using sport and play to help children affected by war, poverty, and illness. The organization’s vision is simple but powerful: “a world in which every child enjoys the right to play.”