“Try to work together”
“Try to work together”
With 10 years of professional sport and development (S&D) experience behind her, Isabel De Vugt, shares how she has seen the sector grow and offers advice to those seeking to start their own initiative.
Isabel De Vugt is the founder of Sport 4 Socialisation, an organisation that uses adapted physical activity and physiotherapy to “create an environment in which disability is accepted and youth and children with disabilities have equal rights”.
sportanddev: Can you briefly describe your professional background in S&D and explain why you first got involved?
Isabel: During the final year of my degree in business administration I decided to focus on S&D. More specifically I conducted one-year research on the value of sport for the inclusion of children with disabilities in Africa. Through desk and field research I developed the ‘Social Inclusion Programme’ concept, and ended up in Kenya to run a pilot of this project together with a local S&D organisation. After graduation I worked for a local S&D organisation in Zimbabwe and in 2007 I founded the NGO Sport 4 Socialisation, which works to improve the lives of children with disabilities.
sportanddev: How has the professional landscape of the sector evolved over the years you have been involved?
Isabel: When I first got involved in the sector in 2004, there were very few S&D organisations active. Over the years this number has grown rapidly. More people and organisations have become aware of the impact sport has on other development themes such as health, social inclusion, and education. Obviously the recognition of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace by the UN is a major step forward to put S&D on the map of international development. But I still think there is need for more awareness on this topic.
sportanddev: What advice would you give to young S&D professionals and to those who are looking to get started?
Isabel: Many people would like to get involved in this upcoming and ‘attractive’ sector. Firstly, it’s important to gain experience in different types of projects to fully understand the role sport can play in development. Secondly, for people looking to start their own project, try to work together with already existing organisations. Map out where you can complement each other rather than setting up something new. And do your research; most likely there’s someone, somewhere, who has done something similar. Learn from each other’s successes and failures. But most of all, work together.
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