On January 26, the second generation of the project “Creating Life Champions”, whose piloting began in 2018, was officially launched in Belgrade. The event, opened with a press conference, was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia, from which the project coordinator – Development Center for Youth comes, while His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye and representatives of the diplomatic corps from the participating countries also strengthened it with their presence.
In continuation, representatives of the consortium from Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Türkiye, Portugal and Greece, coming from the sports, youth, educational and research sectors, held an initial meeting in order to jointly define the next steps in the process.
In the upcoming period, research team will examine the current role and position of coaches in the sports field, focusing on their own perception of themselves as educators and pedagogues, after which the representatives of the academic community will proceed with development of a program for further introduction of non-formal education into sports field through the activities that would be carried out by coaches, all with the aim of learning through games and sports.
Present members of the consortium jointly stated that sport is a powerful instrument for spreading positive values and conveying important social messages, and that the activities planned for continuation, such as local training and joint camps, are an opportunity not only for children to learn, but also to connect and form lifelong friendships, at the same time recognizing the importance of understanding, tolerance and solidarity as important social values that are promoted through the concept. Project coordinator informed those present about the results of the previous pilot activity, proudly pointing out that over 700 children, 100 coaches and 200 parents have already gone through the concept, with the intention of increasing these numbers in the years ahead, noting that all activities were free for participants of the same.
Message of the consortium is that the role of sport is firstly to create excellent people – life champions, and only then sports leaders – sport champions, and that this is how the implementation of the project should be approached. Consortium members also see it as an opportunity to improve relations between the countries they represent, starting from the fact that sport has always been a strong connecting thread.
Development Center for Youth as a coordinator, and football clubs Grafičar from Serbia, Gorica from Croatia, Antalyaspor from Türkiye, Ludogorets from Bulgaria, Sloga Doboj and Željezničar from Bosnia and Herzegovina, sports complex GCP from Portugal, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory and faculties for sports of universities in Ankara and Skopje, but also United Societies of Balkans from Thessaloniki, Trade Union Education Center from Banja Luka and Union Center for Education and Training from Skopje as representatives of the civil society, supported by experts in the field of sports, pedagogy, psychology, human rights and youth work, will implement their activities with the support of the European Union through the ERASMUS+ program in the field of sport for the next two years.
An additional impulse is the support that came from the UEFA Foundation for Children in order to pilot the aforementioned model of work at the DEKI5 camps of celebrated Dejan Stanković, and the Pandev Academy of respected Goran Pandev.