GloKnoCo Trip to Paderborn Germany. March 2022
Written by Anna Birakos, (Ishami Foundation Project Outreach Volunteer, MA History Student, Durham University.)
In March, I attended the Global Sport for Development and Peace Knowledge Collaborative (GloKnoCo) conference in Paderborn (Germany). Following our prior trip to Berlin (2021), and Olomouc (2019), the visit was a marked success. GloKnoCo was established three years ago under the Erasmus and EU programme. The visit consisted of a 5-day field trip which sought to explore the way in which sport can be used for social development and peace. The central aim of the programme is to begin a dialogue between universities and NGOs to ensure current and future teaching and actors engage with contemporary research which effectively addresses the fundamental needs of the sector.
On day two, we began with practical workshops led by our partner NGOs; Przemek and Jakub at trenujbyciedobrym (Poland), Nicola from PlayHandball (South Africa and Kenya) and Ansley and Lenka from INEX (fotbalprorozvoj, Czech Republic). During the session led by Przemek and Jakub, we played Football Free, a football game centred around teamwork, respect and game values. This encouraged us to consider the active values that football can teach. Rather than focusing on winning,
students used the workshop to develop their own rules of play, which centred around encouragement, teamwork and civility. The ethos behind this resonated with the work we do on the ground at Ishami Foundation, thus enabling us to reflect on the different ways football can be used to both promote reconciliation and unity. During the session led by Nicola (PlayHandball) we engaged in handball games based on the topic of littering and environmental consciousness. This taught us to reflect on the importance of recycling, communication and respect (for the team, the game and the planet). During Ansley and Lenka’s session (INEXs), we learned about the importance of soft skills, communication, and teamwork, both on and off the pitch. Again, this foregrounded the impact that football has in teaching young people about the values and team spirit attributed to sport. In the afternoon, Dr. Marie Buernann introduced a theory behind Sport for Development and students discussed the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
After reuniting with GloKnoCo scholars and NGO representatives, the programme began with an introductory games’ night, where new students from the University of Olomouc (Czech Republic), the University of Brighton (UK) and the University of Paderborn (Germany) met and engaged in intercultural team building activities. During games night, we learned about the importance of diversity and inclusion through the ‘CultuRallye game’, a game built on the premise of intercultural communication. Afterwards, we reflected on the central ideology behind the game, in relation to the way we interact with new people, understand different cultures and orient ourselves in new and sometimes difficult situations. This was a thought- provoking way to begin the week as it foregrounded considerations of diversity and inclusion, shedding light on matters such as communication, social norms, different cultures and the way this makes you feel.
On day three, students formed groups and worked towards their own sporting programmes organised under one of the SDGs. In the afternoon, Professor Sabine Radtke from the University of Paderborn presented on the topic of sports for people with disabilities. We considered the concept of disability in relation to sport by discussing medical and social models of disability, particularly in relation to how disability remains taboo in certain societies and what the consequences of this is in different environments. The evening ended with a viewing of the documentary Gold – You Can Do More Than You Think. The documentary followed three inspirational Paralympic athletes and their journey to the London 2012 Paralympics; it emphasised the message that physical limitations can be overcome and encouraged us to expand our horizons.
Following this enlightening evening, on day four, we engaged in a variety of para- sports led by Paralympic athletes. Workshops included Goalball (led by Michael Breidbach, ex German National Team player); Wheelchair Basketball led by Philipp Wilmes and Katherina Hatting (Paderborn Ahorn Panthers). Along with Sitting Volleyball, led by Suvi Blechschmidt (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen) and Paralympic player Mathis Tigler (TSV Bayer 04 Leverksuen). These workshops sought to create awareness and understanding around undertaking sport with impairments – it was incredibly inspiring. We then reflected on the day’s activities and engaged in a group
discussion about the purpose of the activities. This was particularly prominent as it re-iterated the differing ways sport can encourage reflection on division and polarisation in society, be that through disability, religion or ethnicity. Again, the relevance of these topics linked to the work Ishami Foundation engage in on the ground in Rwanda, accentuating the fundamental importance of football, (and sport in general), in breaking down barriers and divisions and unifying participants.
On the final day, Dr. Graham Spacey presented the Theory of Change initiative, as part of the final preparation for students ahead of the Brussels Field Trip. Students will now work in intercultural groups to create a ‘Theory of Change Prospective’ for Ishami Foundation which will be presented at the Brussels conference in May. This will correlate the key issues we discussed throughout the duration of the Paderborn trip and help anticipate the development of Ishami. The model should trace our future activities and achievable outcomes in consideration of our long-term goals, target communities and aims for change.
We look forward to working with the students on this project and seeing the finalised project in Brussels. This will be presented to international academics and SDP stakeholders in the field.