International UN Volunteer Antoine Deliege (Belgium) with UNICEF in Rwanda wants more of the country?s children and youth to play and do sport for their own good. He trains local volunteers to be coaches and get great, inclusive games going with the simplest means available.

Antoine Deliege, UN Volunteer with UNICEF in Rwanda

“When I give a ball to a child, I know I can change that child’s life for the better,” says Antoine Deliége who works closely with Right to Play International to implement a UNICEF-funded project which uses sport to promote healthy child development.

For UN Volunteer Antoine Deliége (Belgium), his assignment at UNICEF in Rwanda is literally child’s play. Working closely with Right To Play International, a non-governmental organization (NGO), Antoine implements a UNICEF-funded project to ensure that many Rwandan children and youth will have the opportunity to play.

The project is based on Sports for Development, a concept which uses sport to achieve specific development objectives, like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sport is also considered a powerful engine to fulfill the rights of children.

Play and sport contribute to healthy child development, from building self-esteem and life skills to teaching important life lessons about respect, cooperation, resilience and leadership. It can mobilize communities, and foster peace and tolerance.

Antoine believes children need more than food and vaccinations but hopes and dreams as well.  He seeks out the cooperation of local youth-friendly centres and trains local volunteers in the art of coaching. He then teaches these new coaches how to get great games going with boys and girls and only the simplest of available means. Additionally, they are taught disabled youngsters can join in and gain from games and play.

“When I give a ball to a child, I know I can change that child’s life for the better.” says Antoine. “Play and sport help all children, including the poorest and most marginalized, to have fun and enjoy their childhood. The impact of sport on children is just magic!”