Beyond coexistence: the need for Community
This project means to focus on the theme of community development throughout sports.
With “community development” we mean all the educational and approaches meant to enliven society that aim to operate on human groups in between which are social, linguistical and moral ties, along with common interests and habits. A typical example of this are the territorial communities, as in, human groups that share the same life environment.
The community represents a very important aspect – we might even say fundamental – of living together in a society. It becomes more and more important in the face of other social structures becoming weaker, such as the traditional family unity and the old typologies of participation in politics (like political parties, workers’ unions, the political movements, etc.).
Societal well-being is, indeed, strictly tied to the chance of creating positive relationships within one’s own community, to the chance of creating solidarity and mutual aid, to the respect of diversities, cultural exchange and coexistence.
The community, though, doesn’t just need to create the condition for coexistence in which the various components of society are merely “tolerating” each other, without real interaction. The community needs opportunities and “rituals” through which people can meet, get to know each other, act effectually in order to better their own living environment and well-being and – why not – have fun together through entertainment activities.
Therefore, this is about recovering a kind of sociality that is today in great danger because of causes that are certainly present in all European countries.
Sport for Community Development
Within the context that we have just described, the project intends to develop the theme of community development through sports. Sport and sports-related activities are, in fact, an element that can help with community development, when:
- they focus on the entertainment in playing and in meeting others instead of simple, pure competition;
- there’s a choice of multiple sport disciplines and motor activities that can involve the largest possible number of people, intercepting different interests, generations and social classes;
- sports might become community development when they provide opportunities to facilitate processes of change and elaboration that are real and effective.
This last point necessitates to be discussed more in-depth.
It would be fairly misleading to assume that it would only take bringing people together to play sports in order for a community to develop positively. Of course, practicing sports is in itself a way to generate new typologies of sociability. But what do we mean with community development? Community development is a complex phenomenon, which incluse very diverse aspects:
- the emersion and enhancement of a community’s resources; indeed, every human group has its specific resources coming from the histories and skills of the people it’s created of, from the resources tied to the territory, etc. The first step in order for a community to develop is enhancing its potential, the skills and the attitudes of the people within it, as in, its “human capital”, and to make sure they have the opportunity to emerge.
- Involving the entire community in active ways in its life environment, as a responsibility assumption and knowledge that without this same active effort there can be no change. This skill it tied to the resilience, as in, the capacity of withstanding life’s difficulties by developing positive abilities and valors.
- The development of the learning potential in the community, which means: learning to mediate conflict, learning to adapt to changes and most of all, become aware that it’s the community which is responsible for the education of who belongs in it, as the famous African saying goes: “in order to educate a young man, it takes an entire village”.
Our project aims to create an original methodology that combines sports and an approach to community development, producing a didactic module that might allow operators and volunteers to become development facilitators in communities, throughout sports.
The project, from this point of view, fully answers to the “To promote voluntary activities in sport, together with social inclusion, equal opportunities and awareness of the importance of health-enhancing physical activity through increased participation in, and equal access to, sport for all” objective.
The community development that we wish to promote will, in fact, focus on the abilities within the community to self-organize sports practices, with the aim of favoring inclusion and intercultural exchange, equal opportunities, and the members’ psychophysical well-being.
The targets of the project are:
- Volunteers working in the field of sports, who are investing effort in the development of their own community;
- Sports operators interested in broadening their skills and knowledge in the field of community development throughout sports activities;
- Educators who operate through sports activities in order to facilitate social inclusion and community development;
- Civil society organizations that are active in promoting their territories throughout sports;
- Sports societies interested in broadening their skills and capacities in the field of community development throughout sports activities.
The project fully answers the needs of the described targets and of the participating organizations, which have been involved in the area of social inclusion and have worked through sports activities in this sense, and which for this very reason have decided to further enforce their competences and their knowledge in this field.