A Comment on Migration from the other side of the Fence

This year’s political hot topic seems (once again) to be migration. We are all familiar with the storyline. In 2015 we saw a rise in refugees and migrants coming to Europe. Some have left their home country because of war, while others have left because of poverty with hopes for a better life elsewhere. Ever since the member states of the EU have all tried in their own ways to limit their share of the responsibility. In fact it has become a global trend to close down borders and build fences and walls to keep the lesser privileged out.

For three years a harsh debate between the ones who believes in tighter control and the ones wanting to help the ones in need has roared. This hasn’t produced the needed results, and today we find that the problems have only grown to become so big that it threatens the very existence of the EU – a union designed to keep the European continent peaceful.

I hope 2018 will be the year for transnational solutions to the refugee and migrant crisis. The high pressure on our elected European state leaders gives hope, as nothing is higher on the agenda for quite a few of them. The combination will neither be walls nor open arms. Because letting people die at the foot of Fortress Europe is just as short sighted as welcoming everyone from Africa – the worlds poorest continent projected by the UN to reach a dizzying 3.4 billion people by the end of the century.

And this is where GAME enters the stage. One of the reasons why I feel so proud working for GAME is because we provide a small, but nonetheless important part of the solution through youth-led initiatives evolving around the passion for street sports. This is done by promoting social cohesion and providing lifesaving relief to improve the lives of the ones who haven’t left for Europe yet – and help them lead decent lives at or close to home. And for the ones already in Europe, we help them get a good start and make new friends, which is crucial for their integration. After living two years in Beirut, Lebanon, I know how many skilled organizations and people are working towards these goals every day, but at the same time I’ve also seen how much bigger the need is than what is currently being done.

I hope this model with youth-led social change both at home and abroad can inspire our European leaders to see the importance of developing more initiatives and structures, that will allow everyone to lead decent lives on both sides of the fence. Because as the American author and social entrepreneur Wes Moore puts it in his book The Work, “our passion, influence, and responsibility can never end at our borders”. Only then will we succeed.

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Democracy on the Rebound?

May has been an exciting month with elections in both Tunisia, Lebanon, and Iraq – even for a street sports fanatic like this blogger. In the first two countries, it was the first municipal and parliamentary elections, respectively since the Arab Spring in 2011. So what’s the verdict in these three countries, which are all a bit better than the region’s poor democratic image according to The Economist’s Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. The index lists Syria at the bottom of the list only one spot above North Korea as the very last and 167th least democratic country in the world. For the three ballot ticking countries you find Tunisia placed #69, Lebanon #104, and Iraq #112.

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The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index map for 2017. Bluer colors represent more democratic countries.

Back in 2011 the whole world was watching and many (including this naive blogger) thought that the democratic wind of change sweeping through the region would allow for transformational and systemic change for the long term. As we all know history took another turn and today the region is in more despair than before with high unemployment and several ongoing civil wars. Covering the basic physiological and safety needs is therefore higher on the agenda for many of the 411 million people living in the region, than the name of the political system. This is not surprising. But it’s a shame, if it results in a less transparent and just governance of the country, because the people aren’t holding the ones in power responsible.

The recent elections can therefore be seen as an indicator of whether there is still a belief in a democratic system in the region, where the people hold the politicians accountable and where the voice of women also matters. Let’s just say that prior to the elections my hopes were high. And that the actual results are mixed.

Low voter turnout

In terms of voter turnout I must say, that I was disappointed to see that in all three countries less than half the voters fulfilled their civic duty and showed up on election day. In Lebanon voter turnout was 49%, in Iraq 45%, and in Tunisia as little as 34% showed up.

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Supporters of Joumana Haddad, a novelist and candidate running on an independent list, protest against what they say are clear signs of fraud to deny her victory (source: money1055.com).

Another highly anticipated and much debated aspect of the elections was the number of female candidates in the race. We all know that you can’t win if you don’t run. That’s why several NGOs have focused on getting more female candidates on the ballot. This resulted in an impressive 700% increase in Lebanon, where 86 candidates ran for election compared to only 12 in 2009. Unfortunately the election didn’t go as well as the nominations. Only six women were elected for the parliament’s 128 seats, indicating a 50% increase compared to the 4 women elected in 2009. But having only 5% women in parliament is just not good enough.

Collaborating for transformational change

In Tunisia and Iraq the final results haven’t been published yet, but the situation is less grave, as both countries have a quota of seats reserved for female candidates, resulting in at least 25% of the decision makers being women in Iraq. I like this idea for several reasons. First of all because it is an effective way to move towards gender equality on a political level. Secondly, it helps NGOs break the illusion that we can change the world on our own. Susan Wolf Ditkoff and Abe Grindle describes this quite convincingly in their article “Audacious Philanthropy”, which illuminates how to achieve transformational change:

“Audacious social change is incredibly challenging. Yet history shows that it can succeed. Unfortunately, success never results from a single grant or silver bullet; it takes collaboration, government engagement, and persistence over decades, among other things.”

Over the years GAME has implemented several programs in Lebanon focusing on gender equality with the audacious long term objective to increase the number of women in parliament. By teaching and promoting the skills of democratic citizenship and by inspiring young women to take on a leadership role in their communities and challenge the traditional views on what women are capable of, I like to think that GAME has played a role (however minor) in the increase of women daring to engage in politics today. And encouraged young men to vote for them.

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Female role models in GAME pitching their advocacy campaign targeted the public and politicians of Beirut Municipality.

But the result of the election also shows that more is needed. If we want to see real transformational change we have to work together with the politicians who are the primary duty bearers in providing for the people who elects them. Only then can we succeed, whatever the challenge may be.

I guess the activist and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King was right:

“Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won you earn it and win it in every generation.”

Somaliland’s youth: Idle, not lazy

It is happening. With more than two years in the making, this weekend GAME is finally bringing youth from diverse clans together for a capacity building workshop in Hargeisa, Somaliland. The self-declared state internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia, has been chosen, not because of the convenience of their hotels. It has been chosen because it offers a combination of challenges, which GAME offers well-proven solutions for. Lack of opportunities for the youth, lack of gender equality, and lack of public spaces for sports are all challenges GAME has specialized in providing innovative answers for over the last decade.

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Will these solutions work in what is often recognized as one of the most unstable places on earth? As with so many other things the answer is, it depends. And in this case, it depends to a very high degree on whether the local young street sports enthusiasts pick up on the idea of using sports to make Somaliland a better place.

First of all, let’s clarify that in terms of security, then Somaliland is not Somalia. While it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the latter civil war-wracked country on the Horn of Africa, then Somaliland is much better off. There are no longer pirates off the state’s coast and the last time terror hit was back in 2008. And while Somalia’s political situation is a mess, then Somaliland carried out a peaceful presidential election in November 2017, marking a proud democratic tradition with the sitting president leaving office.

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Back to the young Playmakers. During the first day of workshops, powerfull stories were shared. One of these were from Tasnim, who is studying to become a counsellor. This will allow her to advice families on divorces, something which is much needed as many are unaware of how to move on from a dysfunctional relationship. But Tasnim is also considering becoming a social entrepreneur and start her own initiative. Luckily she’ll have a few years before she has to decide which path to follow. In the meantime she’ll have a chance to test her ability to create social change through street sports, as she will be heading the weekly practices in her community.

Another strong story from one of the 56 participants is shared by Jamila. She is frustrated about the gender roles, which she finds unequal and, for her, confining. Every morning she gets up early and pray in solitude, as only men are allowed to pray at the Mosque. Then follows a long list of chores and responsibilities, including serving breakfast for her siblings, cleaning up, walking to school, working, walking back home, cooking dinner, washing up, etc. The peak of the week is on weekends when she gets to play basketball. That time is her own. But why does she have to be on a schedule all other hours when her male peers can decide themselves how to spend most of their day?

After two full days of training the young role models will receive their certificates and be ready for the next test. Are we at destination “social change” yet? No. The next test will be when the Playmakers take what they’ve learned to street corners of Hargeisa. The hope is, that they will be looked upon as role models with a genuine interest in the lives of the neighborhood kids. By showing them recognition they will slowly earn their respect. And by using GAME’s specially developed compendium with three levels of empowerment they will not only get the participants engaged in a more healthy and active life style, but also create gender equality and prevent conflict along the way.

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And the best thing? Well, that was when one of the young men during the evaluation of the eight hour long Day 1 stood up and said that the only thing, that would have made the day better, was if it had been longer. Bear in mind, that this had been a day with several attacks on his gender’s predominant position in society. What more can you ask for? The Somaliland youth may be idle, but they are definitely not lazy. And from the ones I’ve meet, I would even call them progressive.

Facts: The project is implemented in close partnership with Somaliland National Youth Organization (SONYO) and supported by CISU and Save the Children.

Potholes in my park

Have you ever wondered why there are so many run-down and unusable street sports facilities around in our cities? Like if the youth grew up and no longer needs them.

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Nothing could be further from the truth as there has never been as many young people in the world as we see today. Especially when looking at regions like the Middle East and Africa. And the need has only increased with the rise of obesity in countries where the opposite – starvation – seemed to be the problem only a few decaded ago.

But what mayors and city planners often miss is how much money can be saved by a bit of maintenance and some local ownership. Why is it that so many cities maintains the asphalt on the roads much deerer than the asphalt on their playgrounds? And what would happen if it was the other way around?

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Maybe it’s because it makes better pictures to establish new commercial districts and high profiled public spaces than maintaining and renovating the public spaces that are already there. Cutting the red ribbon to a new mall is more spectacular than tightening the screws on the backboard of a basketball hoop. But while the former doesn’t help us break the curve of obesity, the latter could.

This summer GAME has tightened the screws a few places in Lebanon. One of those is in the southern town of Ansar, where a partnership with the municipality and NRC has increased the appeal and capacity of the local playground. Every Sunday morning Lebanese and Syrian children now meet across divides to play together. The facility re-opened in July and with a strong local ownership amongst the local youth who function as volunteer instructors and role models, the facility still looks brand new. In the coming years GAME strives to refurbish and revigorate many more places like this. In Lebanon, Somaliland, Sierra Leone, and beyond. But we can only do it with the will and support of the local municipalities – who’s with us?

A safe space for children to play sports

By guest blogger Katrine Bruun Bonnén

The citizens of Beirut are facing several challenges if they want to stay physically active. The city is full of cars and the traffic is heavy. Membership of a sports club is a luxury many can not afford and there are hardly any places for free public play. This is causing obesity and diabetes rates to be on the rise. To break the disturbing statistics future generations need more opportunities for physical activity in their everyday life.

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Youth in Beirut using what space is available

A safe environment where children can develop their potential
The latest report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Lebanon released last month revealed both improvements as well as challenges that have to be faced. Amongst the latter Lebanon’s commitment to create a safe environment where children can develop their potential in line with the fundamental principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was reaffirmed. A safe environment to develop potential must also include a safe place to do physical activity. A further look into the report shows that it also concludes that the opportunity to play sports is not available for children free of charge.

Lack of public spaces in Beirut
So what are the chances that children living in Beirut can meet up and play a match of football in their neighborhood without spending a lot of money on membership fees? Or what are the opportunities for the youths who want go for a run in the streets? Well, these young people might face some difficulties. The problem is, that there is a lack of green, public spaces in Beirut, as described in earlier posts on this blog. While the public spaces in Beirut have decreased the population have increased over the later years. WHO recommends that urban areas should have a minimum of 9 m2 of green space per person available with an ideal standard between 10 to 15 m2 (UNDP). Beirut has as little as 0.8 m2 per person. But isn’t this just the reality of the Middle East, one of the most contested areas in the world? Well, according to UN Habitat, Middle Eastern cities consist of only 2 % public space, compared to 12 % in an average European city. But in Beirut the number is mere 0.5 % (The Economist), so Beirut seems to be in a league of its own. The biggest park in Beirut is Horsh Beirut, but the park is fenced in and the entrance is restricted and only open in the weekends. The only public places you can go and play sports for free are in Qasqas and Corniche El Nahr in Ashrafieh which thus should make it up for the approximately 1,6 million people who lives in Beirut (World Bank). The public place in Qasqas is very popular and well attended, which indicates that more places like this is needed in Beirut.

Car accumulation in Beirut
If you want to stay active, an alternative to the public spaces could be a run or a ride on your bike. But in Beirut that option also seems to meet some severe challenges. The sidewalks are often bumpy, full of trash or parked cars and sometimes the sidewalks are non-existing so you would prefer to run in the road. According to WHO’s Global Status Report On Road Safety in 2015 there are no policies that promote walking and cycling. You rarely see a bike or a runner in Beirut and it’s easy to understand why. Precarious road conditions, heavy traffic and risky driving cause a high number of road casualties. In 2013, the traffic mortality rate was 22.6 out of 100.000, 43 % of which were pedestrians (WHO). The roads are not designed for runners or bikers so this is not a place to turn to for physical exercise.

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Wanna go for a run?

Diabetes on the rise
The citizens’ access to safe spaces for exercise is an important factor in order to reduce the high level of diabetes cases that Lebanon is facing. According to a report from International Diabetes Federation, 12.2 % of the population in Lebanon had diabetes in 2015. In comparison the global prevalence rate is 8.5 %. An unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle is resulting in rising obesity among the population. As many as 65 % of the Lebanese are overweight, and every fourth men and every third woman are obese (WHO). One of the main risk factors of developing diabetes is overweight. Also the urban life is linked with the disease due to factors such as increased junk food consumption, the lack of space for exercise and economic inequalities. The citizens of Beirut might be aware of how to live a healthy life, but knowledge by itself is not enough, as social determinants also have a significant impact on people’s lifestyle. Before the Syrian crisis, one out of four of the residents of Lebanon had problems covering the basic needs such as rent, food and health care. With the high number of displaced people today this number is now estimated to more than one out of three, making a nutritious diet an option not available to many.

Free sports for children and youth
The list of barriers for physical activity is long and includes a severe lack of public spaces for exercise, membership fees that are only affordable for a fraction of the population, and heavy traffic that makes it difficult for the individual to stay active running or biking. These are just some of the challenges the citizens of Beirut are facing if they wish to stay fit and healthy. And if people are not provided with the option to choose a more healthy and active lifestyle then the obesity rates will continue to increase leading to an epidemic rise in non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.

The Municipality of Beirut seems to be aware of all this, as they in partnership with the NGO GAME are looking for more places for play. One of the projects is to find an unused building, which can be refurbished as a public indoor street sports facility where the children and youth of the city can engage in sports. GAME which is founded in Denmark but has been present in Lebanon since 2007 has engaged more than 10,000 children and youth through its weekly football, basketball and dance activities across the country. In the first month of GAME’s 10 year anniversary season, more than 800 children have benefitted from the flexible and accessible sport-for-all opportunity. A delegation from the Municipality of Beirut visited GAME’s indoor street sports facility in Copenhagen in February this year to get inspiration for a similar facility in Beirut. Finding a suitable space is still the next big step to move ahead on the pressing need for more public spaces for play, but unfortunately the Municipality hasn’t yet succeeded in finding a building they are willing to prioritize for the purpose.

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Children participating in GAME’s weekly street sports practices in Beirut

If staying active and healthy is a priority amongst the population, the promise to include it in the urban planning of Beirut must be taken seriously. Lebanon has faced and is facing many challenges, but without a population with a healthy mind in a healthy body, the challenges are not going to get any easier. A new bike path across the city is supposedly on its way, but it would suit the Municipality of Beirut to fulfill its commitment to establish more free public spaces where children and youth can play and engage in sports. This will both serve to prevent lifestyle diseases as well as let people with different backgrounds meet and build social ties across Lebanon’s many divides.

Lebanon – an example for the world to follow?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of opening the 2017 Season Start-up Playmaker Camp for 102 young volunteers in Beirut, Lebanon. With street sports activities starting up in new neighborhoods across the country from Sour in the South to Tripoli in the North, it was a great opportunity to let the young role models know how special they are. In this blog-post you can read part of the speech and learn why:

I would like to give you a special welcome to all our newcomers – I hope you will find the program today both interesting and empowering. And when you leave this afternoon you may even know one or two people you wish to add on Facebook. And to all our returning Playmakers, let’s make sure to reach out to all our newcomers and make this Playmaker Camp as good as the previous ones.

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The world needs you

The world needs you more than ever! With Trump in office in the US, Britain leaving the EU, and the evolving civil wars in Syria and Iraq, the world is becoming more divided as we speak. Minorities are under pressure – from Muslims in the US, Jews in London, to Kurds in Turkey.

Here in Lebanon you have a proud history. Yes, you’ve been through a civil war and there are still many things that do not function as it should. Electricity, internet, waste management, etc.. But you have also shown time and again that a multi-ethnic state is possible. Lebanon is a very unique mosaic of culture and civilization, that can provide learning and be an example for the rest of the world.

With 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country Lebanon is the country in the world with the highest percentage of refugees. In fact we have some of them here with us today. You ought to be proud of having opened your door, when other countries continue to close theirs. This gesture calls for good efforts all over the country in order to create opportunities for the less advantaged who are living under tough living conditions.

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10 Years Anniversary

For 10 years GAME Lebanon has done just that. Together we have created access to street sport for children and youth around the country – including refugees from Iraq, Palestine, and Syria. And with the street sports compendium you will be using today, we’ve been able to teach them skills that they can use in other aspects in life. Over the years we’ve reached a total of 10,000 children and youth, with more than 2,000 in 2016 alone.

With new GAME Zones in Maachouk, Ansaar, and Tripoli, this year we are looking to set new heights. As Playmakers you are the backbone of our organization, as your volunteer efforts makes it possible to create social change in 10 neighborhoods across the country.

Female leaders

And watch out! This work will most likely affect your personality. Your engagement as a Playmaker has the potential to change you to become a more organized and responsible being. Something you can later use in other aspects of life.

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If you already see yourself as organized and responsible, you may use GAME to gain leadership experience and become even sharper. In fact a survey from last year shows, that 7 out of 10 (of the Playmakers, red.) believe that they could have a future political career if they decided to. With only 3 % female politicians in Lebanon, you are part of the solution. You are this country’s next generation of leaders. Whether it will be in your own community together with GAME or at a national level at a later stage.

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I’m looking forward to a great day together with you. Let’s meet some new people and have some fun!

[ In 2017 the Playmakers are part of the project Youth-led Street Sport for All funded by The European Union and MS:ActionAid ]

When there is no public space for play

We all know it. Physical exercise is a game changer when it comes to “mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a healthy body. It makes you happy and lets you live longer and better lifes with less illness. But what to do, when there are no places for exercise and play?

Last year my wife, three kids, and I left our healthy and wealthy Scandinavian comfort zone and moved to Lebanon. Because we wanted to do our part in unfolding the potentials in this fragile country torn by war and conflict. We knew that things were going to be different. We knew that the country was heavily burdened with as much as 25 % of the population being refugees – primarily from Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. We also knew that stable and unlimited internet, 24 hours electrical power, and the luxury of always having running water in the tap was being left behind.

What we hadn’t anticipated was the struggle we had to fight to stay physically active. The reasons are many. Back in Copenhagen we didn’t own a car because biking around the city was the quickest and healthiest way to get around. In a city like Beirut with its heavy traffic and no bike lanes, this is not an option. Going to a gym will cost you 120-150 USD per month per person, which is a bit steep when you are a family of five. And then there is the public spaces. Who doesn’t like to play ball in the park or go for a run? The problem is that public space comprise only 2 % of the cities in the Middle East, compared to 12 % in average European cities. And in Beirut it’s down to 0.5 % (The Economist, 2016).

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Shrinking public space in Beirut: The cars have taken a bite of the green.

Can you break a sweat on 0.5 % of the city’s space? Yes, of course. But only if you get access. And access seems to be the problem. Lebanon has a thing for fences. The biggest park in both Beirut and Tripoli (second largest city in Lebanon) are fenced in and only open on weekends. WHO recommends 60 minutes of physical activity for children. Not just on weekends, but each day. How do you honor that, when the park is closed five days a week and when many of the other public gardens are bushes, benches, and desolated fountains? The fact that in the recently renovated Sanaya Park children are not allowed to run on the playground, doesn’t make it easy either.

What’s missing are accessible public spaces, where people can meet and practice their right to the city. Signe Lund Brandis – a former intern at GAME Lebanon – has recently shown this in her master thesis “Public Space in Beirut”. In Beirut it is not necessarily ownership that enables or limits the usage of space, as Brandis makes evident. The access to the limited spaces owned by the municipality is also key. And the remodeling of these spaces to active zones where citizens can meet across divides is a good place to start if you want to build a stronger and more cohesive population. How are we going to respect each other, if we never meet and interact? And what better place to do so than at a public space through a game of basketball or ping-pong?

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Haddadine in Tripoli, where an old fountain will soon be turned into a miniature recreational park. Stay tuned.

The good news are, that both in Beirut and Tripoli the municipalities have opened their eyes and are now trying to re-invent what public spaces can look like. From using old abandoned buildings for street sports in Beirut, to opening up the legendary Fair in Tripoli – a never completed masterpiece by the world renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer – for basketball tournaments. Sometimes it doesn’t take more than a few hundred square meters to make public space, where children and youth can meet to play sports and socialize. Out of the many projects the non-profit GAME Lebanon has engaged in to create more opportunities for play, one of my favorites is a small pocket park in Tripoli that UN-Habitat has invited GAME Lebanon to help design and activate. The project will turn an fenced-in desolated fountain into a mini-football and ping-pong arena as well as a safe place where the women of the neighborhood can meet outside the home.

And this is exactly the point. We can change and shape the cities the way we want them. Cities are human creations and supposedly the epitome of civilization. But if they are unhealthy and without safe places for interactions with fellow citizens, how civilized are they then? Let’s create liveable cities with more public spaces for play.

Preventing radicalization by engaging youth at the local level

Last month I had the chance to participate in a round table debate with a group of knowledgeable people in the EU Commission including MEP Julie Ward, Bruno Derbaix, Mayor Bart Somers, and Katrien Hertog. The topic was how to engage with youth at the local level in order to promote inclusion and fundamental values.

The overall goal was find new ways on how to prevent violent radicalization in the light of the tragic terrorist attacks Europe has seen in the past year, namely Paris and Brussels . In this video you can see the debate including my thoughts on why civil society and sports ought to play a vital role (32:10)

Watch the debate here.

Mere fællesskab end forening

Nye tal fra Idrættens Analyseinstitut (IDAN), viser, at for første gang siden 1964, hvor man begyndte at lave nationale idrætsundersøgelser herhjemme, er der tilbagegang i danskernes idrætsdeltagelse. Tallene som officielt først bliver offentliggjort til sommer i rapporten Danskernes motions- og sportsvaner 2016 viser, at danskerne samlet set er mindre fysisk aktive, end for fem år siden. Mere præcist er der en tilbagegang fra 64 % til 61 %. Og som noget nyt, er det særligt hos børn og unge, at pulsen sjældnere kommer op. I disse år, hvor vores to store nationale idrætsorganisationer DIF og DGI er gået sammen om at løfte danskernes idrætsdeltagelse, kan dette virke noget overraskende. Men at løfte idrætsdeltagelsen har jo aldrig alene været DIF og DGI’s ansvar. Lad os i fællesskab tage arbejdstøjet på, og få gjort noget ved det.

I lørdags var det Gadeidrættens Dag. Fra Nakskov til Aalborg inviterede lokale fælleskaber af ildsjæle til events, hvor man kunne prøve gadeidrætten på egen krop: Parkour, skate, street fodbold, cyr wheel er bare et lille udsnit. Det skete, fordi der findes en National Platform for Gadeidræt, som helt uden om det etablerede idrætssystem stimulerer de selvorganiserede miljøer på gaden. Noget der med stor sandsynlighed har været medvirkende til, at løbehjul, rulleskøjter og skateboarding i dag er rykket op som den fjerde største børneidræt efter fodbold, svømning og gymnastik. Ud af de 10 største børneidrætter, er gadeidrætten sammen med styrketræning de to eneste, som er vokset i løbet af de sidste fem år.

Platformen er der behov for, fordi selv-organiserede fællesskaber som gadeidræt har en tendens til at blive devalueret som ‘uorganiserede’ og dermed mindre legitime i de nationale og kommunale prioriteringer – både når det kommer til adgang til kommunale faciliteter og til midler via folkeoplysningsloven. Det er tid til at ruske systemerne omkring begreber som ’forening’ og ’idræt’, så der bliver plads til det mylder af fællesskaber og aktivitet, der ikke kan eller vil være i det etablerede.

Gadeidræt er bevægelse og fællesskab, der bruger gaden. Både som fysisk lokalitet og som kultur. De største gadeidrætter er parkour, skate, street basket, street soccer og street dance. Det er kendetegnet ved fællesskaber, som er selv- eller semiorganiserede og hvor regler og krav er et fælles anliggende for deltagerne. Gadeidræt er vigtig for vores fælles sundhed, mangfoldighed, frivillighed og inklusion, fordi det har en særlig evne til at tage livtag med barrierer, som afholder mange børn og unge fra at være aktive.

Okay, gadeidræt er godt. Så hvad er problemet? Problemet er den måde, vi ser på ’forening’ og de systemer, der er sat op for at kunne agere som fysisk og demokratisk civilsamfund.

Kommunerne bruger årligt 3,5 mia. på idrætsfaciliteter – som man skal være forening eller skole for at benytte. Det samme er tilfældet for at få støtte iht. folkeoplysningsloven. Problemet er, at det ekskluderer mange fx unge, rastløse eller ressourcesvage, at man skal lave vedtægter, vælge formand og sekretær, afholde generalforsamling med indkaldelse 14 dage i forvejen. Og at man skal kunne det, for at være en forening, så man kan bruge faciliteter.

I foreningsdanmark er idrætten domineret af DIF/DGI, som langt er de største spillere med en politisk besluttet fordeling af tips- og lottomidler, hvor der står DIG/DGI på knap 600 millioner af kronerne. Det er en monopoliseret position, som kan formulere dansk foreningsidræt som sundt, demokratisk opbyggeligt og et redskab til inklusion og integration. Men hvad med alle de andre aktører, som gennem de senere år er lykkedes med at få gang i de idrætssvage målgrupper, som mange foreninger interesserer sig mindre for?

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Gadeidrættens lave tærskel til deltagelse kan tiltrække socialt, økonomisk og kulturelt udfordrede børn og unge, som snubler i den etablerede foreningsidræt med fokus på førsteholdet og høje krav til ressourcer, kulturkendskab og opbakning fra hjemmeadressen i udsatte boligområder. Og gadeidrættens DNA som selvorganiseret, fleksibelt, do-it-with-others-drevet kan tiltrække de rastløse, innovative og iværksætterne, som selv vil have ejerskab, selv bygge, opfinde og udvikle deres passion.

Pågående forskning viser, ”at der findes er mange danske unge og voksne, som har realistiske og nytænkende ideer, som kan berige måden, hvorpå der skabes rum for idræt og bevægelseskulturer i Danmark. Til trods for at disse personer er initiativrige og nytænkende, oplever flere en miskommunikation og manglende samfundsmæssig legitimering af deres baggrund som selvorganiserende, hvilket medvirker til, at deres projekter ofte forbliver på et indledende stadie.” (Anne-Lene Sand, ph.d., adjunkt.)

Hvad er så løsningen? Vi kommer et stykke ad vejen ved at tilbyde interessant og relevant bevægelse til gadefolket ved, at det etablerede foreningsdanmark prioriterer gadeidrætten, som vi ser en tendens til nu. Men skal vi tage gadeidrætten og dens fællesskaber alvorligt (og det skal vi), så skal vi OGSÅ tilbyde vækstmiljøer uden for det etablerede foreningssystem. En slags ’urban gardening’, hvor gadeidrættens græsrødder får lov at udvikle sig frit. Det kræver, at vi tør give initiativet fri, og støtte fællesskaber, der ikke nødvendigvis kræver organisering i foreninger. Den Nationale Platform for Gadeidræt er et oplagt eksempel. Den Nationale Platform for Gadeidræt er blevet til, ved at Nordea-fonden er trådt til med en bevilling, der gør, at vi i tre år kan give støtte til ’søm & skruer’ og rådgivning til en mangfoldighed af initiativer, fællesskaber, enkeltpersoner og kommuner. Her kan de vokse fra et sted, som ikke allerede er fastlåst i forhold til organiseringsformen.

kærepolitikere

Lige nu har gadeidrætten ikke nogen plads i vores fælles prioriteringer. Vi er i den heldige situation, at en række store danske fonde har set potentialet for at udvikle gadeidrætten som vækstlag. Men hvad sker der, når deres støtte stopper? Hvem skal sikre, at der også er lettilgængelige og fleksible aktiviteter i lokalområdet på den lange bane?

Det bør være en politisk opgave at sikre, at vi som samfund tilbyder og tiltrækker dem, der falder i snubletrådene i det etablerede idræt. Derfor har vi inviteret alle landets politikere og andre med lyst til leg på asfalten ud på gaden, for at opleve gadeidrættens mange kvaliteter. Du kan hjælpe ved at dele vores kampagne og selv komme med ud på asfalten!

Del kampagnen ”Flere børn på gaden”
Se hvor du kan finde gadeidræt nær dig

[ En kortere version af dette blogindlæg er bragt i Dagbladet Information 24. maj 2016 ]

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