Today, we celebrate International Day of University Sport.
The ideal of the University, contained in the very etymology of the word, aspires to the comprehensive development of skills and the acquisition of universal knowledge. This knowledge is not confined to the intellectual sphere: it includes knowledge of one's self, and knowledge of one's body, of its possibilities and limitations. This complementarity between mind and body, this balanced and harmonious development of the self, constitute the essence of university sport; they reflect the ancient wisdom expressed in Juvenal’s well-known words: mens sana in corpore sano.
Sport opens up new horizons and gives joy and satisfaction at all ages. When praticed in peer groups within the framework of the University, enhanced by its inclusion in a prestigious, institutional setting, sport is for young people, at a critical time in their lives, a formidable tool for individual and collective development. It promotes values as essential as fair play, respect, team spirit, responsibility and perseverance, and enriches in an inspiring way the students’ disciplines. It helps talents bloom, enables the discovery of new forms of play and interaction, and encourages excellence.
This International Day of University Sport is an opportunity to celebrate all the benefits of sport. It is also an opportunity to highlight the important social role played by universities in the establishment of a world of greater solidarity, and the forging of responsible, fulfilled citizens.
UNESCO, as United Nations lead agency for sport and physical education and partner of the International University Sports Federation, is particularly committed to the promotion of the values conveyed through sport, and proposes to governments and voluntary organizations its expertise in education and sport programmes, in line with the principles established in the International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport.
On this International Day, UNESCO invites all actors from academia to unite around the cause of university sport, and to recall the words of Albert Camus when interviewed for the Bulletin of the Racing Universitaire d’Alger: “Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men and women, I owe to sport”.