Keynote 4 Part I: Exploring the emergent role of arts, culture, and sports in bridging inequality
Part I: Exploring the emergent role of arts, culture, and sports in bridging inequality
- Jess MARKT Disability Sport and Inclusion Specialist, International Committee of the Red Cross
- John SHIELS Chief Executive Officer, Manchester United Foundation
- Karis TEETAN Jockey, The Hong Kong Jockey Club
- Trisha LEAHY Chief Executive, Hong Kong Sports Institute
Dr Trisha Leahy, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Sports Institute, kick-started the panel by explaining how sports is instrumental in bringing individual, communal, and national harmony.
Reflecting on this, Mr Karis Teetan, a Jockey of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, shared how horse racing shaped his life, enabling him to provide a fulfilling life for himself and his family. Mr Jess Markt, Disability Sport and Inclusion Specialist of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also shared his journey as a wheelchair basketball player and explained how his career helped him breakthrough stereotypes associated with differently-abled people. He also reflected that sports could be the next step for physical rehabilitation and societal integration for people with disabilities.
“Without arts, sports, and culture in our lives, our next generation will be no different than robots”, remarked Mr John Shiels, Chief Executive Officer of the Manchester United Foundation, as the panel explored how these three act as an initial trigger for impact on a person, allow individuals to see themselves in a new light, and act as role models for others. Mr Shiels also explained how sports should not be seen as an “extra resource” that a person could have or have not as it can positively influence a person’s physical and mental health.
Answering Dr Leahy’s question on the impact of sports, Mr Markt shared an example of how sports allowed a disabled person in Afghanistan to see themselves as more than just a person with disability, feel confident about their place in society, and even serve as a role model to people. Mr Shiels shared that sports was a great tool for the Manchester United Foundation to gain the trust of young people so that they could mentor and support them to move beyond their 10-minute worlds. He also reflected on the benefits of the continuum of care in ensuring that young people are set up for success in their adult lives too. Finally, Mr Teetan reminded us that sports can be a ladder out of poverty by providing another pathway for talent to flourish.
However, the panel wanted to stress that using sports to impact people needs to be done intentionally. It is not enough to simply support sports as giving everyone a chance to participate requires the creation of safe spaces and a supporting infrastructure. Mr Markt emphasised that making opportunities available under people’s own conditions can help them realise something bigger in the future. Mr Shiels explained how he has seen a surge in girl athletes and stressed on the need for more time, thought, and investment to sustain and advance this further.