Reinforcing the capacity of sport leaders to advance value-based education through sport
The morning of 15th February, 2023 was no ordinary morning in the lives of 34 sport leaders from across India, who assembled together to enter into an engaging and immersive four-day ‘Fit for Life Funshop’ in Manav Rachna University - Faridabad, India.
The Fit for Life Funshop, ideated by UNESCO, is an innovative and carefully designed program, curated to build capacities of sports leaders and enable them to use sport for social good. The Fit for Life Funshop was the first one of its kind in India, with an earlier iteration - UNESCO Sport and the SDGs Youth Funshop - taking place in Seoul in 2019.
The most-recently held ‘Fit for Life Funshop’, organized by UNESCO, together with Pro Sport Development (PSD), and in partnership with Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies and The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), was a four-day residential workshop at the Manav Rachna University campus, taking place between 15th February – 18th February 2023. Participants were invited from across India, with UNESCO conducting a careful and thorough selection process, to ultimately identify 34 sport leaders from across the country.
Through the program, selected sport leaders engaged in immersive learning sessions to build their knowledge and skills, with the ultimate goal of creating effective sports for development (S4D) programs at the grassroots, as well as to become change-makers to promote value-based education through sport in schools across India. Additionally, as a part of the Funshop, the identified sport leaders were able to participate intThe 6th National and International Conference on Health and Sports Sciences, also held at Manav Rachna.
The Funshop was divided into two phases, with the first phase being delivered by PSD, an award-winning social enterprise working on delivering and aiding social change through sport.
PSD, a specialist in designing and delivering workshops to enhance S4D facilitation skills, took the 32 selected sport leaders through a set of online courses, developed in partnership with UNESCO and Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA). The courses – Introduction to S4D and Sport for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment – aimed to give participants an overview of the S4D sector.
This was followed by an engaging two-day workshop, co-facilitated by Suheil Tandon, Founder-Director of PSD, and Isha Saxena, Program Officer at PSD. The workshop aimed to enhance participants’ capacities to design, communicate, execute and evaluate impactful S4D programs, followed by creating action plans for participants to implement at government/community schools across the country, and developing their own programs.
The second phase of the Funshop involved the participants in the 6th National and International Conference on Health and Sports Sciences, which brought together eminent speakers from across the globe who shed light on key thematic areas, including Sports Education, Sports Psychology and Mental Health, Sports and Technology, Sports Culture and Sports Performance and Nutrition.
This experience enabled sport leaders to share, learn and grow together, in order to create sustained and impactful change through sport.
“Initially, I thought that the workshop would involve only lectures and would be mentally taxing; however, the workshop brought forward a unique way of delivering content and kept me engaged through sport-based activities. It also encouraged me to think on my feet and come up with my own solutions to challenges that I face as a facilitator. It enabled me to learn about unique experiences from sport-based changemakers from across the country and how sport can be leveraged as tool for the upliftment of those around me,” said Rani Kumari, an 18-year old footballer and the youngest participant at the Funshop, who aims to share the joy of sport with others in her communities - as an able and effective facilitator.
“The Funshop brought together knowledgeable and capable leaders in the field of sport from across the country, who brought with them several skills and experiences, which has been a great takeaway for me. Interacting with the facilitators from PSD and other sport leaders has allowed me to learn about how I can enhance my capabilities as an S4D facilitator. I sincerely wish that such workshops are extended to other regions and take place recurrently, so that it can expose and influence those individuals, like me, who are in need of upskilling and knowledge in the field of S4D,” said Avinash Pandey, a 27-year old community trainer, currently working with Monkey Sports, a social enterprise that promotes quality education and the well-being of children in schools through sports in Bihar. Avinash takes back a considerable amount of learning from the Funshop, with the hopes of similar initiatives taking place in other parts of the country to build awareness of and capacities in S4D.
With the conclusion of the first Fit for Life Funshop in India, all the participants and stakeholders took back with them many experiences, friendships, lessons and life-long knowledge, to become effective S4D facilitators and implementers S4D in their communities across the country