After presentation of the concept of life champions at the camps in Palić, Divčibare and Zlatibor, the partners Development Center for Youth and DEKI5 camp organized the final annual gathering at the project “Creating Life Champions”.
In addition to representatives of the youth sector and the academic community, following football clubs from the region and beyond have had their representatives at the gathering in the House of Football, Stara Pazova – RFK Grafičar and DEKI5 camp from Serbia, FC Željezničar, FC Sloga Doboj and FC Laktaši from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Akademija Pandev Brera Strumica and ŽFK Borec Veles from North Macedonia, FC Breznica from Montenegro and FC Ludogorets from Bulgaria were represented at the meeting. They were joined by eminent experts in the fields of sports psychology, law, pedagogy, and representatives of various institutions interested in the concept of life champions.
However, special attention and interest of those present was caused by the lecture of prof. dr Ranko Rajović, a world-renowned expert in child development and education.
“The concept of life champions puts in the foreground coaches as educators and pedagogues, whose role is to contribute to the proper and comprehensive development of children and young athletes. The focus is on creating life champions, not the sports ones, because sport, apart from its commercial role, which is constantly emphasized, is an ideal tool for learning, connecting, cooperating, developing tolerance and understanding. Bearing in mind that professor Rajović is one of the world’s greatest experts in the early development of children and especially in learning through play, we considered him the best possible lecturer for those present, especially football coaches. Delight with the usefulness and comprehensiveness of the lecture is the best indicator that we share the vision of children’s development with the professor, and we therefore hope that this lecture will be only the first step in intensifying professional cooperation”, said project coordinator Aleksandra Knežević, referring to this segment of the meeting.
In continuation, it has been highlighted what are the biggest achievements during the year 2023 – research conducted in 7 countries on the pedagogical and educational role of coaches and how to strengthen it in the coming period, the first of its kind in Europe; initiated expert work on the creation of a practical brochure for coaches that should offer concrete knowledge, information and tools on the actions of coaches beyond the sports component of training, bearing in mind that they are one of the central role models for children growing up; conducted 6 info days in the participating countries, during which the essence of the idea of life champions was discussed with club managements, children, coaches and parents; the first mixed camp for life champions and female life champions held, free for all its participants. Highlighting the results, the project coordinator proudly pointed out that over 1,000 children and adults took direct part in the activities, and that over a million people were informed about them, primarily thanks to media support from TV Arena Sport, but also from other interested media houses.
After a set of constructive discussions, it has been jointly concluded that in 2024 full attention should be paid to the greater participation of girls and strengthening the concept of female life champions, but also to finding new modalities of cooperation with parents, who are an indispensable link in the child-coach-parent triangle. In the end, everyone’s goal is the same – a satisfied and fulfilled child who happily returns to sports activities.
The project “Creating Life Champions” is implemented with the support of the UEFA Foundation for Children and ERASMUS+ program in the field of sports.