Interview about SDP

We cannot change the How’ but the ‘Why’

From an academic perspective, what advice would you give to a coach in the Global South who wants to improve coaching standards?
The rules and the conduct of sport differs across cultures, but as coaches we can still focus on sport’s intrinsic value to improve each participant’s experience.

If we agree with some sociologist that sport is a mere mirror of society and as such its practice will always be tied to an area’s ideology, we may as well fail to coaching standards.  However, this so called reductionist view (i.e. sport is a microcosm of society) is neither shared by all, nor does it diminish our ability to make a difference.  Even though we unavoidably need to adapt our design to the particulars of a culture, we still may be able to utilize sport to teach moral values and thus improve the coaching experience.

Value generation through sport is a question of how one gets socializes into it.  As coaches, we need to make participants focus on the intrinsic values of sport, not on the rewards it may deliver (e.g., pleasure, winning).  Experience is one part, but coaching also needs to reiterate the appreciation of the means – the inner values – rather than focusing on the results.  For instance, Western sport is usually fixated on competition and winning.  Even though I do not want to disregards likely benefits of competition, I would still argue that nowhere is it stated how the result of winning may be achieved.  Indeed, there are rules, but cheating has the paradoxical nature of not abandoning the rules if it is either not stipulated or has not been exposed.  Consequently, to improve coaching standards we need to clearly state the inner values we want to promote.

About inherent trans-formative strength

How can those in the Global South be assisted in improving coaching standards in a sport for development context, without inadvertently pushing any, perhaps unwanted, moral codes? How can Western coaches, programmes and organisations help to improve coaching standards in the Global South while respecting the local context and expertise?
Sport for Development may empower communities to find their own solutions, if the values of our programs are freely accepted and intrinsically valued by all participants.

Improving coaching standards in the Global South requires local partnerships and locals integrated in the decision making process.  Education and sport are normative environments where a consensus about the means needs to be found; thus cooperation is of utmost importance.  We need to understand sport as a part of a greater whole, a tool that can, but does not has to be used to fulfill objectives which are both closely related to other development efforts and need-based.  The main risk any development activity faces is to misunderstand the facilitative nature that has to underlie each doing.

Projects are usually externally funded and thus constitute a third party that is meant to support, empower and assist.  In particular, a Western norm of paternalism has no space.  When we want to facilitate, we cannot rely on our own cultural and social belief and value systems.  We need to respect differences of each group, each individual and rely on their inherent strength to find a solution that fits their specific situation.  That answer may not be perceived as being ideal from our perspective, yet we must not disregard the appropriateness of it, because that would diminish self-respect and threaten our task to empower.  We need to assume a voluntary agreement to the social norms our program wants to establish; the moral value sport should be governed by need to be adopted freely and intrinsically valued by all participants.

Understanding by experiencing morality

How can sport be used to foster the learning and understanding of equality? How is sport linked with liberal education in fostering the universality of moral development?
The benefits of sport need to be taught and founded on a mutual acceptable ethical framework. Sport should be accompanied by education and used as a function for moral development.

The social environment sport programs can create may be understood as a haven where personalities can prosper and where equality can be achieved.  The possibility to unplug children from their natural habitats and to create a different culture based on freely agreed moral values of equity and unity is somewhat unique.  Nonetheless, we also need to admit that we are establishing a possibly contradictory subculture.  Even though it has emerged from a dominant one and its exclusivity will protect it from external forces, it is also limited to program boundaries.  If we, however, accomplish making those values become inner principles, in the long run the word may spread beyond the borders of the program.

Sport is shaped by its participants and the ideology they express through it.  As such, it can be utilized to exemplify different behaviors and to gain a better and mutual understanding of each other.  However, neither the benefits nor the risks of sport should be ignored.  Sport remains a tool that can be adjusted, or even exploited, in ways that elicit different kind of moral reasoning.  It does not matter how one acts, it matters how one takes this information and makes it part of a wider educational scheme.  What we express on the field are the lessons we can learn off the field.  If each participant voluntarily agrees to the moral values of the program, there should be no violation, but there will be.  Addressing those violations may likewise be enriching for moral development.

Towards a localized Homeless World Cup

The homeless community is regularly stigmatized: believed to pose social risks through disaffection. What could we do to change such on a local / regional level?
Insights from the Homeless World Cup™ could be used locally and regionally – creating a platform to integrate various stakeholders and to design innovative, need-based solution.

Disaffection is a complex phenomenon, believed to cause increased levels of disruptive behavior, truancy, and social exclusions. Generally it is caused by an uneven distribution of opportunities.

Countries have identified it as a social problem area, trying to counterweight the impacts of disaffection. Policy makers, however, locate it in the wider context of social exclusion, caused by geographical dispersal – disregarding the complexity of the relationship between education, training, employment, housing, health, and family.

The homeless might be the most defamed group among the disaffected and socially excluded. Helping them must extend beyond food provision, as this vulnerable community is in need of a holistic approach in addressing their underlying social necessities.

Internationally, the Homeless World Cup™ shows up ways to build self-esteem, towards social inclusion, while improving physical and mental health. Their insights appear useful to design local events that:

  • improve relations between homeless community, general public, and local authorities
  • mitigate segregation, disaffection, social exclusion, and public stigma
  • lobby for further investment in homelessness issues

Sport participation constitutes one element to mitigate the social risks of disaffection. More importantly, however, appears to be the sporting site itself. It can serve as a platform to bring together various stakeholder groups.

Governmental agencies, corporate supporters, non-profit organisations, and community members oftentimes operate in silos. Sport’s mass and media appeal can be promoted and is beneficial to all of these groups. Offering an opportunity to (re-)connect, allowing to integrate efforts and to innovate solutions for the homeless community.