Within the framework of the Youth Integrity Ambassadors Programme (YIAP), an Erasmus+ funded project, the first European Training Course on sport integrity was organised, held on 9-15 February 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, and hosted by the Portuguese Sport Confederation.
The capital of Portugal welcomed 36 young people who joined the first European training course on sport integrity for young ambassadors. The participants, aged between 18-30 years old and coming from all over Europe, were chosen by the YIAP project partner organisations.
Built on the best practices of all the partners involved, the organizations united their expertise with an aim to empower young people and support them to acquire new leadership skills to become young ambassadors of sport integrity, especially within their local communities and sport clubs.
The educational programme, used throughout the course, was developed by the project’s Youth and Sport Integrity Expert Committee (YSIEC) which was led by ENGSO, ENGSO Youth and the lead partner of the project and ENGSO member organisation – Swedish Sports Confederation (RF). With an extensive experience in working with young people in Europe, ENGSO Youth Chair Ugne Chmeliauskaite, Policy manager Tiago Guilherme and Project coordinator Alessia De Iulis were involved in all aspects of the training course, from programme development to organisation of the course.
The first “getting to know each other” day was dedicated to icebreakers and non-formal education activities which were used to create an environment of trust, respect and mutual understanding. The training days that followed dived deeper into specific topics such as integrity, values, leadership, communication, etc.
A common understanding of integrity was established at the beginning of the week based on the guidelines developed by the European Lotteries (the main associated partner of the project), and Paul Standaert, the President of Panathlon International Belgium and Secretary of Panathlon International EU Brussels. Being the keynote speaker at the event, Paul Standaert led the young participants to discover ethics and a more concrete meaning of the term “integrity”. He also presented the Integrity Management Framework, and shared examples and stories from Flanders Gymnastics Federation and the far-reaching initiatives implemented in order to control cross-border behaviours.
With the aim of demonstrating the importance of creating an environment built and based on integrity, the participants had the chance to ask Paul questions about the characteristics of being a good ambassador, how to be effective in this role and work, and how to overcome barriers.
After a lesson on integrity, the training course moved towards the next sessions – the presentations of several tools and resources which will be later used by YIAP ambassadors. The sessions were led by all partners of the project.
Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) started with a workshop on inclusive leadership, guiding the YIAP ambassadors through the characteristics and the skills needed in order to develop and lead a team, and presenting the importance of creating a meaningful environment within and outside sport activities. The sessions were guided by Jenni Hakkinen, Schools and University Engagement Manager in SOEE. Jenni was also supported by the team from Special Olympics Portugal which joined the training course for two days.
Workshops led by EUSA focused on “Media, Integrity and Leadership in sport”, and explained how online spaces can be used to pass a message, how to shape those messages in a way that it reaches massive audience, how to be effective in our communication and what are the steps and the characteristics needed to turn an idea into action and create an impactful campaign. Hristina Hristova, EUSA Communication officer, was the expert leading the workshop.
Between those sessions, the participants had the opportunity to share their experiences through an open mic session and bring up examples of lack of integrity having an impact on their personal contexts and lives. RF Småland guided the session with their athletes, and “passed the mic” to the rest of the plenary, creating a meaningful moment.
Sport has been a core part of the training course. Thanks to OPES, SOEE and ENGSO Youth, the young ambassadors had the chance to engage in physical activities with the purpose of having a concrete example on how to include the values of integrity & accessibility, bond and reinforce the relationship between the young participants, and create an environment of positive support for mental health and learning. OPES organised a guided sport session, SOEE and SOEE Portugal challenged the participants through a basketball match and ENGSO Youth introduced “The Fair Throw”, one of the activities of the MANUAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION THROUGH SPORT, ideated by the participants of the project Back to Basic: Human Rights Education through Sport programme.
After an orientation game in the city on day four, organised by ENGSO Youth and the Portuguese Sport Confederation (PSC), during which participants had the chance to discover Lisbon, its landmarks, the local culture, the food and to bond even more, OPES led the last sessions of the training course and guide the participants through the ideation and concept development for the local activities participants will implement back at home.
A template was presented and shared to support the ambassadors to build their ideas step by step, and eventually create a joint YIAP campaign.
Based on the educational foundation built during the training course and the ideation of their local activities with the main objective of dissemination, the young ambassadors now have the skills to train their peers to actively identify, prevent and react against dishonest, and illegal practices within the sport sector. Their local campaigns will contribute to spreading the culture of integrity at the grassroot sport level among youth communities, sport clubs, schools and universities, by taking into consideration the knowledge and the tools acquired during the European Training Course.
At the same time, they will be active online. Using the online tools and platforms they will identify as the most adequate for their local contexts, the dissemination campaign will be continued on online platforms, to open spaces of discussion about integrity among young people and also to maximise the impact and the number of people reached.
The development of the Training Course was the first step for testing the educational programme put together by the Youth and Sport Integrity Expert Committee in the last months.
Based on the feedback from the young ambassadors and the partners involved, OPES will now finalise a toolkit that will contain all needed steps to replicate the training and to organise the local dissemination activities. The toolkit will be completed with tips and indications from the participants, to warn of the possible difficulties they might encounter and guide the individuals and organisations that will implement it in their own communities.
A second collection of useful information, tools, resources and guidance documents will be used to create the Youth Integrity Ambassadors Campaign Tool(s) with an aim to support the creation of online actions and campaigns tailored to fit the needs and the environment of the ambassadors and diversity of the target groups.
The following months will be dedicated to dissemination activities, training new young ambassadors, testing educational tools and reinforcing the sense of integrity in the local sport communities. Representatives of the national teams will then gather in Sweden, in March 2024, to present the results of their actions and campaigns, during the final YIAP events hosted by the Swedish Sport Confederation.
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