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Dr. Judy Kuriansky:
UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SPORTS
FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
Dr. Judy Kuriansky
MAKING A DIFFERENCE BEYOND THE GAME:
THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL DAY
OF SPORTS FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
by Judy Kuriansky
“Sport has the power to change the world Sport can create
where once there was only despair”
- Nelson Mandela,
activist and South African President
Ever dream of being a sports star?
Those who did - and made it big – gathered
on the International Day of Sport for Development and
Peace – celebrated annually on April 6 -- at an event I
moderated with my colleagueGordon
with the Mission of
Sierra Leone at the United Nations as our main sponsor
NGOs, Give Them A Hand Foundation and the International
Association of Applied Psychology.
Stars and my students ignited the stage at Turkiye House
(the Mission and Consulate of Turkey) across from
the New York UN headquarters.
Legendary Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, 1973 Basketball
Hall of Famer
for the beloved New York Knicks, wowed the audience,
clapped incessantly, as he told stories of how he famously
left and then faked right on the court, keeping opponents off center!
Education and sports are the winning combination, he said:
“A ball and a book can change the world.”
Earl now teaches young kids his tricks, at his
Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School.
Earl Monroe and Dr Judy
H.E. Ambassador Fanday Turay,
Permanent Representative of the
Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, with Earl
His Excellency Fanday Turay,
the main sponsor of this
how sport builds character and societies through teamwork,
fairness, discipline and respect for rules
– and also told my favorite
stories of sports
Playing ping pong in 1971 – called “Ping pong diplomacy”
end two decades of Chinese-American unfriendly relations.
South Africa’s first post-Apartheid President,
the Rugby World Cup to prevent civil war,
as Liberia similarly used
football in the1990s.
And, in 2008, feuding Armenia and Turkey had
a World Cup qualifying match
between their national teams that
reopened diplomatic dialogue.
Asafa Powell and wife
The “Jewel of Jamaica” elite sprinter Asafa Powell is
an Olympic Gold Medalist and world-record holder for the
100-meter dash, and now
host of the “Fast Lane” lifestyle podcast and Ambassador for the 2024
African Games in Ghana. He flew in, fresh off the track of
parents’ race for his child’s school. He donates lots of
hospitals (even forgets how much!) because he wants his kids to
receive good treatment in Jamaica.
Former WNBA player Imani Mc-Gee-Stafford
Towering at 6’7”, 28-year old
American professional basketball
Imani McGee-Stafford, was bullied as a child for her height,
but it brought her into the WNBA, and on to become Big 12
Freshman of the Year, and star player.
She married her childhood sweetheart and stepped away from
WNBA seasons in 2020-2021 to pursue a law degree.
A published poet and model, she’s now a member of U.S. State
Department’s Sports Envoy program and spokesperson for
Her real passion: being a mental health advocate, sharing
her story of surviving sexual abuse and of being bipolar, to
help young girls in
sports face their mental problems and achieve success.
“You need to let others know you need help - and receive
basketballer Jared Hamilton
Jared Harrington, a Maryland-native basketballer for Albany
College, began his pro career in Mongolia, then moved to the Cape
Town (South Africa) Tigers for the BAL (Basketball Africa
qualifiers, and then to Cobra Sport in South Sudan.
Currently, he is founder of “Beat The Odds Global”,
co-owns the Orion basketball team in Rwanda, and is Board
Chair of Cape Verde
Basketball league. Cape Verde is an island country in the central
Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Africa, known for being
exceptionally multi-cultural (mixed
European and African descent,
often referred to as mestiço or Crioulo).
teaches athletes about “economic planning and
When Kim Wyant was coach of the New York University women’s
soccer team, she got a call out of the blue to step in for
the New York University’s Men’s Soccer Team as coach. Not
believing her luck
– and wondering “How can I do this?” -- she said “yes!” (my favorite
advice: “Just say yes and figure it out”!) and became the
head coach of an NCAA men’s soccer team (now, one of two),
her teams compiling a 63-51-14 overall record.
Minister Plenipotentiary/Head of Chancery of
the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations,
Sulay-Manah Kpukumu, with Dr. Judy and His Excellency
Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the UN Fanday Turay
Gordon Tapper with Ambassador Fanday Turay
and sprinter Asafa Powell
My friend, colleague, and event co-producer Gordon Tapper
huge sports fan and aficionado who got these stars to come and
brilliantly moderated the first half of the event with them speaking.
"Sports was a weapon of war” a long time ago,” he said,
training armies for the longest spear-throwing or
inform a King about advancing opposing armies,
but today “it’s a power for peace bringing players together
diverse backgrounds to compete with or against each other,
Well-known athletes of both genders influence our behavior
and fashion, he pointed out, like Michael Jordan’s Air
Jordans, and baggy
shorts! Consistent with the UN Agenda, women’s sports -- like the Women’s
Soccer World Cup -- has advanced gender equality.
Part 2: The Youth Panel
In part 2, I moderated a panel of students from my class on
”Psychology and the United Nations” at Columbia
University Teachers College, who excel in both academics and
They all honored their parents for influencing them, as did
I shared that when I fell off my horse at age 8 (in
Kentucky) and was
covered in blood, my frightened mother said “You’ll never
but my brave Army officer father said, “Get right back on that
NOW!” Dad also taught me all kinds of sports, even
archery (now an Olympic sport) as shown in this photo! The
love of sports stuck.
Throughout life, I have played tackle football (as QB), squash
(tough!), basketball (lots of HORSE), baseball (shortstop,
base), volleyball, skied, and even climbed Kilimanjaro.
My father teaching me archery at Fort
Dr Judy with her students Taylor Akason, Erin
Barry and Lupeng Fan
All three students -- Erin Barry (swimming),
(volleyball) and Lupeng Fan (badminton)
found friendships and
learned dedication and discipline through sports.
is pictured proudly holding the badminton racket that
his dad gave him when he turned 18 -- they bonded through the
game. Lupeng came to my class every week proudly carrying his
“The Birdie” doesn’t lie”
he proclaimed, meaning the amount of effort
you put into the sport influences your performance: it’s a
When Erin Barry fell into a slump swimming
college, her coach advised, “Just have fun!”
It worked! She went on to break time records – win the
Atlantic-10 Swimming conference three years in a row, and make it to
the Olympic swimming trials!
Her advice: be dedicated and driven. Push yourself.
In my class, she wrote a chapter for my upcoming book on
Leveraging Technology and Social Innovations to Transform
Healthcare for COVID-19 Recovery and Beyond,”
unique programs around the world using tech tools for
like Japan radio broadcasting a calisthenics routine
got a volleyball scholarship at Pepperdine where she
spent over 5,000 hours practicing and lifting weights.
Her take-away: “Sports teaches you heard work and
For fun, I asked Taylor to “play’ volleyball with
who also loves volleyball, and tossed them my NBC
Ambassador Turay and my student Taylor Akason
Maya Monroe and Dr Judy
At 6’1” tall, event co-organizer, Maya Monroe, daughter of
Pearl” Monroe, took after her dad by playing basketball, for
Georgia Institute of Technology Yellow Jacket's women's
Now, she’s assistant coach for York College women's
team; Physical Education Director at the Madison Square Boys
Girls club; partnering with the
Ghana Basketball Association to create
the first National Basketball Championship; and with The
Library Authority, Basketball 4 Peace and African Chiefs for
Book Day, to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development
Goals of education and gender equality -- giving out books and balls,
installing courts, and access to clean water.
came to enjoy and network, including long-time fellow
advocate in the NGO community at the United Nations,
Shuman, who brought her friend, Nadia Rouab, project manager
Franco-American Partnerships n New York, who does a project
called “Sport Dans La Ville” (sports in the city). Sara Galloway also
came by, proud of her daughter having just graduated from
Columbia Journalism School. Another friend, Nene Kodjoe,
Chair of “Sustainable Initiatives and Alliances for Africa” (SIA
who knows of my many projects in Africa, wants to work
and Imani McGee-Stafford
Who’s really taller? My best friend, international
Russell Daisey, long-time supporter of these UN events,
on my team
as an NGO representative at the UN for the International Association
of Applied Psychology, matched his height against 6’7”
Imani McGee-Stafford. What fun!
Just like coaches and support staff allow athletes to shine,
here (modestly) is this event’s hard-working and talented
production team: me with Gordon Tapper, Bethann Carbone
of the World Citizens Network Foundation and Branding
Ovation partner with Mike Heil
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