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Multiple Swiss-based NGOs, one common strategy

Copyrights: Right to Play Switzerland

Multiple Swiss-based NGOs, one common strategy

On Friday 21 October, the first meeting of Swiss-based NGOs and academics working in the sport and development sector took place in Biel, Switzerland.

The idea was to get to know each other’s activities and to discuss challenges and needs in order to work together, gain more visibility and have a stronger voice as a movement in Switzerland. After a short introduction – and a short game to put everybody at ease –, the meeting started with an overview of the field and some definitions, most importantly “Sport as a fundamental right and powerful tool”.

Three main topics were discussed. First, the challenges faced by the organisations in their respective work using sport and development, and the reasons why sport as an instrument is not among the mainstream tools of development. The second topic was whether there is a need to establish a group and with which objectives. Thirdly, whether it will be interesting to involve other actors besides NGOs, practitioners and academics (for example government, policy makers, or sports associations).

Many challenges were identified, specifically:

  • The disconnection between guidelines (e.g. information online and academic papers) and the work in the field
  • Diversity is a challenge in the sense that there are many NGOs working on different sub-sectors within sport and development
  • The current problem with funding (it can be difficult to measure the impact of sport, making it harder to convince funders to support projects - M&E needs to improve)
  • The consequent lack of sustainability
  • The lack of research, which needs more coordination between disciplines
  • Capacity building issues (lack of professionals and experts)

Given the common challenges faced by Swiss-based NGOs on a national and global scale, everybody agreed that it could be very positive to have a working group dedicated to the elaboration of a strategy to give more relevance to the sport and development sector. This group could take different forms, such as a platform to share internal documents or an annual working group, but the important is to keep the specificities  of each organisation. This means to preserve the message of sport as a tool for development, and not present it as one of the pillars of development. This will form the general guidelines of the new message to be shared: everybody is aware of the positive connection between sport and health, but not many have used its importance to promote social changes such as gender equality, peacebuilding, or raising HIV awareness.

To successfully fulfil this change of mindset, it would be ideal to also involve other actors playing an important role in sports, such as international sports federations, national sports associations, government representatives, policy makers, international NGOs  and the UN.

Another meeting is expected in the up-coming months with two mains goals: getting to know each other and defining an agenda with giving priorities.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 10:20