Goodbye old – welcome New!

Nova Giodina

Dear partners and friends,

Saying goodbye to 2023, we wish to share with you what are the most beautiful and useful moments its leaves behind in our case.

We certainly consider that our most important achievement is continuous development of the concept of life champions, realized with the support of the UEFA Foundation for Children and the ERASMUS+ program of the European Union in the field of sports, and in partnership with 18 actors from the sports, education and youth sectors from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro and Portugal.

Thanks to the aforementioned support, we got the first research on the pedagogical and educational role of coaches of younger categories of this type in Europe, whose preparation was coordinated by the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory of the University in Belgrade. The research was then presented on two occasions – at the regional meeting of coaches held in Zrenjanin at the end of May (with the participation of over 30 coaches from 8 football clubs involved) and at the expert group meeting held in Divčibare in July, so that all involved partners had the opportunity to comment on it and give their contribution.

In continuation, the expert group consisted of experts from the fields of sports, youth work, human rights, pedagogy, psychology and marketing, divided the responsibilities and designed the structure of the document – a publication that should leave lasting value behind us – a guide for coaches on how to strengthen their educational and pedagogical work with young people, insisting on a holistic approach to sport.

Nevertheless, we tried to ensure that the sports sector was not neglected either, and during the year we realized 6 info days (Sarajevo, Doboj, Veles, Pljevlja, Velika Gorica, Belgrade), as well as ad hoc presentations of the concept in Velika Plana, at the camp of famous futsal national team member Dragan Tomić Gale, as well as at the info day in Bijeljina. During the same, we talked with the children, parents and coaches (almost 1,500 people) about the next activities, the first of which was – a free camp on Palić for almost 200 children. On that occasion, we started creating female life champions, showing that sport should be accessible and open to everyone. Over 200 children went through our model of training, education and connecting at DEKI5 camps, and during one of them we were visited by a program supervisor from the UEFA Foundation for Children, to whom we proudly presented our work with children and youth in sports. We also presented the sports-educational concept at the Family Day and gathering with Goran Pandev organized by the Pandev Academy Brera Strumica in Strumica during August 2023.

We used the last part of the year for new field activities, and during our visits to HNK Gorica and FC Željezničar Sarajevo, we met with representatives of the clubs, introduced them to further plans and donated part of the equipment that was given to us by the UEFA Foundation for Children. During one of the visits, we also visited Laktaši, and on that occasion FC Laktaši officially joined the concept of life champions.

This year, we gathered coaches, as well as representatives of the education and youth sector once again – during the final meeting in November in the House of Football, Stara Pazova, in order to get first-hand feedback on their satisfaction with the implemented activities and ideas for the future.

In the meantime, we always took care of the visibility of the project, and in addition to the media partnership with TV Arena sport, we received the support of numerous other media throughout the region, as well as several exclusive guest appearances in the prime time of TV stations with national coverage, which influenced this year’s reach to be over 7 million people.

In addition to working on the concept of life champions, we were also a dedicated partner on several projects, among other things, continuing to strengthen our partnership with the USB association from Greece, with the support of the ERASMUS+ program of the European Union. Here, we are primarily referring to the project EMBRACE – Ecological mobility by raising awareness on changing our Earth”, as part of which the final conference was held in Vietnam at the beginning of 2023, but also the TUNE project, which focused on getting to know the European Strategy for Youth and its goals, and within which workshops for young people were held in Belgrade, Kuršumlija and Aleksinac, as well as the final conference in Thessaloniki.

We also continued dealing with trade union issues, as partners on the project “Trade Unions are IN – engage, get involved, act” in the coordination of the Trade Union UPOZ from North Macedonia and with the support of the ERASMUS+ program, Key action 3 – European Youth Together, as well as on to the project “Voice of youth is the voice of the future” in coordination of the Association for Education and Development from Montenegro, with the support of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

We provided support in the preparation of project ideas to partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, and we also provided training for development of the strategic plan of NatAna association, to whose activities we will give a boost in the upcoming period.

Although our year 2023 could be described in numbers as follows – through almost 20 events of different format, 18 active partners from 9 European countries, over 2,000 direct participants and 7 million indirectly informed people about the same, and more than 20 empowered individuals to act in the civil sector, we consider that our biggest undertaking is continuation of the expansion of the team, which was joined in the past period by young Anastasija Nenadović.

We will start 2024 with great news – the UEFA Foundation for Children will continue to support our work through the project “Life Champions 2.0 – we are all champions”, and we have many other challenges ahead of us, which you will read about after the peaceful holidays.

We wish everyone a successful and joyful 2024!

Yours Aleksandra and the team of Development Center for Youth