Read the essay from Lilla.
Author: Lilla Bálint, winner of our essay competition
Its May 5th, 2040 and I am enjoying the last days of the weather that remind me of what we used to call spring when I was young. Although we’ve done and achieved so much to avoid a catastrophic climate change it still does get incredibly hot over the summer. I have to figure something out about the number of participants plummeting at our urban outdoor events, but not today. I had enough to work on for today.
As I am drinking my well-deserved tea I see my husband walk into the living room to tell me what he had cooked for us for dinner and as he walks out he does a few pull-ups on the pull up rod installed on our living room door. I stop and think for a moment, not only about how I absolutely lucked out with this guy, but also about how rare it was to have one in a hosuehold and now it became so obvious that we all have at least one in our homes. It became so popular even IKEA started selling them, their second best idea after the vegan hot dogs if you ask me. My fingers clenching around the fuming mug I stare into the abyss and the view of the city from our apartment and I think about how far we all come. How far I have come. I am 42 now, and although I dont know the answer to all the questions in the universe – which is slightly disappointing – but so many of the things Ive thought impossible came alive.
I think about the young professional I was 20 years ago, a confused fresh graduate who saw so many possibilities and possibly even more obstacles – all I knew was that I wanted to dedicate my life to my love for movement and infuse it into as many people as I can. I wanted to create impact and I wanted to do it in a team. As if it was play, because it was. But not in a way that it shouldnt be taken seriously. When I say playing sports saved my life, I dont want anyone to take that lightly. Whenever I felt sad, lonely or lost I was able to confide in sports, move pent up energy and anger over all of the inequalities of the world and I had something in my life that grounded me into a routine. Going to practice, sharing the joy of learning with my team mates, and then eventually performing and competing together has turned us into a real team and has given the sense of belonging and meaning to our lives. To see that it is such a pivotal part of the lives of all the youth aroung me lifts me up so much.
I remember when I was in primary school, back in the early 2000’s, the rise of our jeans was as low as the quality of sports education. It took me so much work to recover from the trauma caused by the advanced exercises we had to do before being taught how to fall safely or how to strenghten our muscles and improve our stamina. I remember all of us walking to the PE room with a knot in our stomach, afraid of being embarrassef or bodyshamed. Sport didnt feel natural. Not to mention that it was such a secluded, hard to access part of life. Those kids whose families had the financial and time privileges to manage all the logistics were able to get into horseriding, ballet or hip-hop and so many middle income households were fearing the next performance dress or supplement bill, single parents sacrificing their only free day to drive their child to the venue of their game. I remember these times all to well, and my heart does a little happy dance when I notice how much this, too, have changed. These days taking care of our bodies is a crucial part of the school curriculum (I know it all to well, as me and my incredible team of international experts were in charge of expanding the Health Studies textbook with a chapter on Mindfullnes for the beginning of this previous schoolyear – oh how I love that knowledge circulates around the planet, not knowing borders and I have to check the pronunciation of the names of my new collagues before the world rushes in my office door for an online meeting!), and kids from a young age are so aware of what seasonal vegetable helps them stay healthy all year around and which muscle group needs to be stretched after they have been sitting for a few hours during their VR fieldtrip to the ancient Petra or the depths of the Pacific Ocean.
I think about how many people, teachers, trainers, fundraisers, politicians, international organizations and decisionmaking bodies were working on providing this safe and nourishing future for the upcoming generations. I envy them a bit, to be honest. I remember the first time (back when we were a small group of people who wanted to make the city dance her heart out) approached the authorities if we could have these open outdoor sessions for people and had to go through the entire red-tape process, get the permits, build efficient funding from scratch and we had to relocate our studio once because of the unwelcoming neighbors. Today, it is a very rare occasion that people get into a car and go to a gym to work out there, gosh, Im so glad that more and more city councils are joining in the movement of making sports accessible to all classes and races, to even the most dangerous of districts. Us sport NGOs have done so much and we still have the most impressive toolbelt of best practices but its much easier and more efficient to have our work cushioned not only by the big ornganizations like the EU and the UN, but also them.
We feel so much safer, knowing that we can grow deep roots along with spreading our wings at international trainings, conferences and networking events. Of course, it was a smart decision for them as well, as streets and neighbourhoods utilized by people playing sports makes them safer, which is crucial in these times of unstoppable urbanization. This has become so second nature to us, to appreciate all these things, the street workout facilities, the rentable equipments, the accessible public bathrooms so people can stay safely and enjoy sports. We live a very abundant life, yet still appreciate it so much, we hang out with our friends here and get to know other people constantly, and of course we host many of our programs here with the organization – I can only begin to imagine how much it means for those with less fortunate financial situations or facing abuse or language barriers. Freaking finally, this is their safe space to talk, meet and access the public resources, not the fastfood restaurant.
Sport is no longer so much about performance and competition, no. Just yesterday I have seen a friendly football match broadcasted on the national tv from one of the underprivileged neighbourhoods and I was delighted to see some familiar faces from one of our recent mentorprograms. Sport is not only about looks, it has the power to eradicate differences and build bridges, and Im so glad we get to do this. Suffering, aggression and poverty arent natural states and Im so happy I live in the era where all sectors join forces and I can put my two cents in with what keeps me (and thousands of other people) moving.
Its beautiful, being 42, having a sports organization, a husband who cooks and a pull-up rod. And its time for me now to reheat this tea.
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