New year – and what is next?
We dedicated the year behind us to additional capacity building, new partnerships and promotion of our ideas to the general public, preparing for serious undertakings from 2023. However, this did not prevent us from realizing numerous activities, remaining recognized for our dedication and field work.
But let’s start from the beginning. We continued to strengthen further the concept of “Life Champions”. During June, we presented the same in Kovilovo at the official camp of FC Barcelona “Barca Academy” through two interactive workshops, for both coaches and children. After that, the concept which puts the focus on the coach as an educator and pedagogue, giving priority to the creation of life champions instead of sports champions, was also presented at two international camps of our famous athletes, handball player Ratko Nikolić, held in East Sarajevo, and football player Dejan Stanković, held in Zlatibor. This was followed by a visit to Arandjelovac and beginning of a dialogue with the team of Ratko Nikolić international camp. Thanks to all of the above, more than 200 children and 50 coaches got to know first-hand the ideas and positive messages that our consortium has been promoting since 2018.
These apparently promotional activities brought serious results and a series of plans for further joint action, primarily through involvement of a larger number of coaches and children, and introduction of new sports disciplines such as handball in the further course of concept development. This was followed by further discussions with representatives of the football academy of FC Barcelona and a working visit, all with the aim of examining modalities for potential cooperation in the future.
And that is not all – aware of the importance of promoting gender equality through sports, strengthening women’s sports and the position of girls and young women in the same, members of the consortium paid special attention to introduction of a new line in the concept and its expansion to the creation of female life champions. The first women’s football club to join the concept was ŽFK Borec from Veles, as one of the oldest Macedonian women’s football clubs, and with this act, girls and club’s coaches will have the opportunity to participate equally in all activities planned from 2023 onwards.
However, although most of the time and attention was devoted to strengthening the network of Life Champions, we did not neglect the activities that we were a part of in the role of partners, nor the activities with which we strengthened our partners. In this regard, we would like to highlight the EMBRACE project (Environmental Mobility by Raising Awareness on Changing Our Earth), whose coordinator is the USB association from Greece in partnership with organizations from Serbia, Italy, France, India, Peru and Vietnam. Diversity of the partnership, in addition to getting to know other peoples and cultures, during 2022 also brought the young people involved a tour of India, Greece and Peru through various project activities, and we also spread environmental messages at the local level, where we would especially highlight the workshop held in Raška in cooperation with the local youth office, as one of our long lasting partners.
During the activities, young people from different continents exchanged proposals and ideas for joint action, discussed climate change, pollution protection, garbage disposal and recycling, while also learning a number of concrete things, e.g. how to recycle at home. They prepared environmental workshops, video materials, brochures and leaflets, and in conversation with young people from the local community, they shared interesting stories about experiences from India, France, Greece and Peru, encouraging those present to see for themselves all the advantages of youth activism and become part of the future youth stories. This is precisely how we achieved the essence of our work with young people – to share positive impressions and show that networking of young people from all over the world is an opportunity not only to learn something useful, but also to travel, meet young people from other nations and cultures, make new friends for the lifetime.
We continued to provide support to trade unions from Serbia and the region, primarily through activities aimed at strengthening the youth and women’s sections, but also training for project writing and project cycle management. We have behind us 5 gatherings of different format (training, action planning, teambuilding) with more than 150 participants, as well as 8 training during which we improved the knowledge and capacities of more than 100 participants from different structures and institutions.
We held training, initiated activities, formed partnerships and wrote. Shaped ideas for the future. Analyzed the situation and came up with constructive proposals and solutions for the perceived challenges. And what is the epilogue? It couldn’t have been better. We will start 2023 as the coordinator of two large projects that will deal with further development of the concept of Life Champions, one supported by the European Commission through the ERASMUS+ program in the field of sports and the other supported by the UEFA Foundation for Children, and as the partner in the project “Trade Unions are IN – engage, act, influence”, supported by the European Commission through the program line “European Youth Together”. Dozens of activities await us with thousands of direct users and millions of informed citizens, primarily thanks to the stable media support from TV Arena sport.
However, we do not want to stop there, aware that through discussions with partners during 2022, we have come up with a number of ideas in our field of acting that could apply to the upcoming open call of the European Commission in the field of sports. Support for European projects in 2023 will reach 65 million euros, and we will work together to promote the right values in handball and boxing, and introduce a line of the female Life Champions into football. We want to develop sports, recreation and healthy lifestyles among employees in cooperation with the trade unions, as well as to become an important link in raising the capacity of other sports structures from the Balkans for the usage of available regional and European funds.
You think we are too ambitious? Then wait until you see our New Year’s card for 2023, and until then, share selflessly with us, as all of you have done so far, love, positive energy and faith that all these initiatives we launch and activities we implement can really make even a small contribution to a better world around us and for all of us.
WE WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR,
Aleksandra and the team of Development Center for Youth
PS. And if you ask me, in addition to all these truly significant results, I consider beginning of the rejuvenation of the team to be my biggest victory, and for that sake – Katarina and Veljko, welcome!