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Towards a broader definition of sport and play programmes


Towards a broader definition of sport and play programmes

Caroline Gutton, Director of Sport sans Frontières, argues for a broad definition of sport and play initiatives. She provides two concrete examples in Kosovo and the West Bank.

Caroline Gutton shares her views with's Operating Team on the occasion of the 3rd International Forum on Peace and Sport, held in Monaco, from November 25-27, 2009.

Caroline Gutton told us:
At Sport sans Frontières, we have quite a broad definition of sport. Let me illustrate this with the two following programmes:

First of all, SSF is involved in a project in Kosovo, where children take part in physical and artistic activities: during the school year, pupils receive training in circus activities offering a great combination between creative and physical activities.

At the end of the final term, they are responsible for the organization of a performance where families, and representatives of the children’s communities are invited. This programme puts the pupils in three different positions:

  • Actors: pupils prove to the audience and to themselves that they can perform in public,
  • Spectators: children also observe and respect the work of their peers, thus developing some empathy for each other's work,
  • Producers: they have the possibility to suggest, discuss and develop physical and creative activities.

The second example

focuses on a dancing programme we’ve developed in Beit Sahour (West Bank). In an effort to develop an intervention that met the needs and the interests of the youth of Beit Sahour, we consulted with the youth and they were given the possibility to suggest what kind of activities they’d like to take part in.

Rapidly, it appeared youth were interested in having dancing activites set up. The local staff of SSF suggested that Debka classes should be set up, i.e. a Palestinian traditional dance. The rationale behind this suggestion was that having such a traditional activity for the children would also help gain the support of the broader community (e.g. parents, public authorities).

In fact, the children were rather interested in taking part in hip hop classes, which they perceived as an ideal way of expression and a way of opening up to the world. After making this suggestion, they actively participated in the elaboration of the programme, and today these classes are highly successful among the youth of Beit Sahour.

These examples show that in these two different contexts, adopting a broad vision of sport and play enabled SSF to reach out to various groups and provide them with different entry points into these programmes. This might not have been possible with programmes focusing on a purely competitive conception of sport.


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Chris Middleton


Friday, December 4, 2009 - 23:00

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