Throwback to ASPIRE: conclusions and recommendations

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

ASPIRE (Activity, Sport and Play for the Inclusion of Refugees in Europe) was an ENGSO-led collaborative project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, that sought to find out how to best support migrants and refugees, building on the wide popularity of sports and other forms of physical activity. Concluded in June 2019, ASPIRE served as a pioneer in long-term perspective, offering a positive, evidence-based response that utilises sport as a tool for inclusion of refugees. The project offered knowledge, tools and recommendations, which we want to keep on sharing and promoting to help sport clubs become more accessible and welcoming to refugees.

Sport has unique power to bring people together, to help them connect and to learn new skills – it is one of the most potent community-building tools we have at our disposal. Migration has been a constant force driving the development of human cultures and societies forward from our very beginning. Since the past years and especially the events in 2015, the debate on migration in Europe has been heated, and our aim was to bring a constructive, solution-based angle to the discussion.

During the first six months of the project, the ASPIRE research partner, the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) undertook research through needs assessment, a rapid literature review and identification of best practices in order to ensure our project activities are evidence-based and to gain a better understanding of the context and needs of refugees and sports organisations. The research resulted in the ASPIRE Delphi Survey, the ASPIRE Literature Review - Key Terms, and the ASPIRE Literature Review - Findings. The main outcomes were presented in the ASPIRE Scientific Report.

The findings of the research were reflected in the ASPIRE Training Module, which provides a rich source of accessible information about migrants and refugees, their support, and the different ways in which sport can play a valuable and effective role in promoting their inclusion. The Training Module consists of four chapters on the topics of migration, intercultural dialogue, considering the personal challenges of refugees, and accessible sports organisations. The target group of the manual is people who wish to make their sport or their sports setting more inclusive to people from other backgrounds.

After having been tested by the project partners, the Training Module was implemented through National Training Sessions in 9 European Countries – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Serbia, Spain and Sweden. The trainings included hands-on learning opportunities and introduction to the main areas of the Training Module. Training session topics were migration, intercultural dialogue, psychosocial support, and accessible sport organisations. The trainings targeted people involved in sport, such as instructors, coaches, volunteers, project leaders, administrators and officials, as well as physical education teachers, social and aid workers and refugees with a background on coaching or physical education.

National Training Session is Serbia
National Training Session is Serbia

Additionally, a Guide for future organisers of ASPIRE Training Sessions was constructed to share some of the lessons that have been learned from earlier ASPIRE Training Sessions. The Guide contains e.g. information about ASPIRE, supplemented by practical ideas for making the most of a Training Session. The Guide is designed to be used alongside the other ASPIRE materials, and Training Session coordinators are strongly encouraged to use the Guide alongside the ASPIRE website and the Training Module.

The ASPIRE Final Conference gathered 90 people interested in the project topics to network, learn and share best practices. The programme consisted of the Opening & Introduction of the ASPIRE project, a Symposium on Research and Evidence-Base, Parallel Workshops on Capacity Building and Leadership, a High-Level Panel Discussion on Collaboration and Sustainability, as well as important networking breaks. The event was organised in conjunction with the ENGSO General Assembly in order to maximise the number of participants.

High-Level Panel Discussion at the Final Conference
High-Level Panel Discussion at the Final Conference

Finally, the lessons learned throughout the project were compiled into the ASPIRE Final Conclusions, including key takeaways on the topics of e.g. research and evidence-base, capacity building and leadership. The document summarises the most important recommendations from the project activities and outputs, most notably the ASPIRE Scientific Report, the ASPIRE Training Module, and the ASPIRE Final Conference.

ASPIRE partners:

European and international organisations

ENGSO – the European Sports NGO ENGSO Youth European Lotteries International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) Council of Europe / Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) European Observatoire of Sport and Employment (EOSE)

National and regional sports organisations

Bulgarian Union for Physical Culture and Sports (BUPCS), Bulgaria Catalan Union of Sports Federations (UFEC), Spain Finnish Olympic Committee, Finland German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), Germany Serbian Olympic Committee, Serbia Swedish Sports Confederation (RF), Sweden

Refugee organisations

Caritas akademie, Austria Minor-Ndako, Belgium

National governments and agencies

Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport (General Secretariat of Sport), Greece Sport Vlaanderen, Belgium