December 7, 2023

International Youth Day Aug 11

International Youth Day through the eyes of IOC Young Leader Kamil Pavlinský

11 Aug 2023 – Kamil Pavlinský is a 27-year-old International Olympic Committee (IOC) Young Leader from Slovakia. Within the scope of the Young Leaders Programme, he has set up the “Šanca Športovať” (Sport Chance) project, the main purpose of which is to give underprivileged children sporting opportunities. Kamil is now working for the Czech Olympic Committee in Prague and has been an ambassador at the European Olympic Youth Festival (EYOF). On International Youth Day, Kamil shares his story and why he thinks every child deserves a chance to play sport.

When I was young, I got to try many different sports. My physical education teacher, who was a professional volleyball player, saw me and my friends playing volleyball and told us that we were really good at it. After that, when I was 14 years old, I joined a local club. We were a successful team and eventually we performed really well at the Slovakian Junior Championships. Finally, I had my greatest achievement as an athlete: becoming a Slovakian indoor volleyball champion.

I think it’s so important to have opportunities and encouragement to play sport as a child. When I was at a sensitive age, my parents divorced, and it was a difficult time for me. I often felt lonely, but I always had sport and I always had my friends and teammates. For me, any time I went to the gym or played volleyball, it gave me positive feelings.

My IOC Young Leader Project

I started my  project, Šanca Športovať (which means Sport Chance in English), last year, and we created an “Olympic sports camp” in my hometown of Prešov. It was a five-day long camp for underprivileged children, typically from orphanages and socially disadvantaged families, who have limited access to sport. Over the five days, the children got to try almost 20 different sports, and the end goal was to connect the children who wanted to continue to play with local clubs. During the camp, we also teach the Olympic values: what they’re about, how they can be used, and not just in a sporting context, but in everyday life.

When I started this, I was thinking that I could use sport to help a group of people. I knew how tough it was for me as a teenager, so I wanted to offer children the possibility to play sport, especially those who cannot afford it. I realised that disadvantaged children often feel lonely, and that’s why I decided that they would be my target audience.

Since starting the project, I moved to Prague and now work for the Czech Olympic Committee. I wanted to transfer the project here for other underprivileged children, but focused on one sport: beach volleyball. This year, at the end of August 2023, we will have two camps, one for younger children and one for older ones, and then at the end of September we will launch training groups so they can practise sport on a regular basis.

I know how much sport brings to my life, so I just want to let sport positively impact these children’s lives, too.

I joined the IOC Young Leaders Programme because I realised that sport has a lot of power in society. I have learned that we can create a great community of young people who want to make the world a better place through sport. Personally, the most valuable thing I am getting out of the IOC Young Leaders Programme is meeting new people and making friends from different cultures and countries from around the world.

In addition to my IOC Young Leaders project, I became an ambassador for the European Youth Olympic Festival a few years ago. The EYOF brings so many young people from different countries together, and it’s not just about sport, it’s about something more: meeting people from new places. We want everyone to both learn about the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect, and to make new friends at the same time.

I believe that young people have a very important role in our society. They have a lot of potential to change the world. I would like to see more young people involved in decision making in sport, but also in other areas outside sport. There are many issues around the world and maybe some people don’t appreciate their importance and the impact they have, and young people can be a strong voice for these issues.

Being an ambassador for young people

My message to young people is to not be afraid of having big ideas. Everything starts with an idea, so if you want to change something, the most important part is taking the first step.

IOC Young Leaders Programme contributing to Olympism 365 days a year

Launched in 2016, the IOC Young Leaders Programme empowers young people to leverage the power of sport to make a positive difference in their communities, and therefore contributes to the Olympism365 strategy aimed at strengthening the role of sport as an important enabler of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in direct response to the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5.

So far, with the support of the IOC, these inspiring young people have delivered over 140 sport-led projects in communities across the globe, promoting education and livelihoods, equality and inclusion, health, peace building and sustainability, directly benefitting more than 30,000 people.

Learn more about the IOC Young Leaders Programme and the Olympism365 strategy.

Worldwide Olympic Partner Panasonic’s continued support

The IOC Young Leaders Programme has been supported by Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner Panasonic since 2017, and this will continue through to 2024. Panasonic, as the programme’s founding partner, is committed to supporting the IOC Young Leaders through various initiatives, for example providing its creative and technological expertise, along with its network of influencers and ambassadors, to inspire the Young Leaders and equip them with the skills and tools they need to enhance their projects.

Find out more about Panasonic’s support for the programme and sign up for the “IOC Young Leaders in Action” newsletter to hear the latest updates.

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