This spring, we launched Sports as an Equal Playground– the international project that focuses on inclusion, social accessibility, and equality in sports activities.
The project is supported by Erasmus + Sport programme involves four European partners. Sports as an Equal Playground, shortened SPED, aims to share and utilize the partners’ good practices, compile the good practices into a guide, and train organizations and volunteers.
Due to the Covid-19 situation, we haven’t been able to start properly yet but now is an excellent time to get to know the coordinators working on the project! We have a great amount of expertise from Finland, Lithuania, Italy, and Hungary:
Anett Fodor, coordinator from BAIS, Hungary
Sports have always played an important role in Anett Fodor’s life. She studied Recreational sport management at the Hungarian University of Physical Education and was in exchange at the University of Barcelona. The exchange year gave her a good perspective on the challenges foreign youngsters with limited income face living abroad.
Fodor is from a rural area of Hungary from a family with not much economic wealth. However, she says the sports have helped her reach her goals and the life standard she wanted to achieve. Now she is one of the three founders of a non-profit organization that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle among young people while also creating a sporty and inclusive community for foreign ex-pats living in the Hungarian capital. Anett Fodor is also the Head of Volunteer Programme at UEFA EURO 2021 in Budapest, a member of the Hungarian Olympic Committee Women and Sport Commission, and a Committee Member of ENGSO Youth.
She says that besides sports, she is also interested in gender-specific questions and sustainability.
”I hope that gender will not be an obstacle anymore to involve girls in all different kinds of sports at different levels.”
Anett used to speak seven languages. (But time goes by, and now she had to admit that she has forgotten a lot already.)
Linda Rombolà, coordinator from AICEM, Italy
To understand Linda Rombolà’s passion for sports, we have to start from the beginning. She started playing sports when she was young. Even though she comes from a tiny village of 900 inhabitants with not many opportunities and services for young people, her family was quite involved in sport; her male relatives were either coaches or players.
She joined the children’s soccer team when she was seven, just after the team was founded. The first time, also girls were able to participate, and she enjoyed playing in the team a lot. However, joining a volleyball team at the age of eleven changed Linda’s life. In addition to physical benefits, she discovered the important social aspect of sports – her teammates became her best friends. That was when she decided she wanted to pass the message to other young people. So, it is pretty easy to see why The Erasmus+ Sport project is important for her.
”The project is an opportunity to give our contribution to increasing young people’s experiences and possibilities to test themselves and to acquire competencies. In addition, it is an important way to contribute to improving sport opportunities and its benefits to a wider community.”
Recently, Linda started playing soccer again after four years. She almost gave up at first, but after practicing she is happy she started again!
Adriana Lavrukaitytė, coordinator from Active Youth Association, Lithuania
Adriana Lavrukaitytė has always been passionate about equality, bringing communities together, helping one another, and creating possibilities and opportunities for those who have less of them. For her, this is what the Erasmus+ Sport program is all about. She feels that it allows her to help people feel included and be a part of something big and united.
Lavrukaitytė points out that we must encourage social accessibility in all fields of life. People are excluded because of things that should not make any difference – because of gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, and age. She remembers how many students were bullied and not accepted because of their appearance back in her school days.
”I hope that we will make a significant contribution, which will lead to a significant change in society – everyone will understand that everyone is equal.”
Adriana has approximately 100 different laughs. One of them can remind you of a dolphin and another – an evil witch who she swears she is not (Muahaha).
Katerina Eskelinen, project coordinator from Youth Academy, Finland
Katerina Eskelinen is passionate about building strong partnerships and developing and implementing new exciting projects and activities, which impact young people’s lives. Her primary focus is on promoting young people’s participation and spreading the importance of inclusive culture and its benefits, and encouraging other organizations and private companies to participate young people.
Originally coming from the Czech republic, Eskelinen has good contacts and networks in other European countries and often represents Youth Academy in international projects and activities. Both leisure and competitive sports have always been a part of her life; until her teenage years, she competed in downhill skiing (speed and adrenaline are the best combo!). Nowadays sport is still an important hobby and the best way to relax in her free time.
Katerina Eskelinen thinks that there is still a lot of work to be done in the field of youth participation, especially young people with fewer opportunities and those, who are already experiencing exclusion, need our focus and support. According to her, it is essential to participate young people in all stages of the activities which concern them – we need to listen to their needs, ideas, and challenges and work together to ensure all the young people feel welcome and comfortable.
”We aim to ensure that all the young people can participate in sport and free-time activities, no matter who they are, how they look like or where do they come from.”
Katerina loves the Star Wars movies and has seen all of them a hundred times. Her favorite character is Princess Leia, who Katerina thinks is a great example of a brave and strong woman.