• ENGSO Youth

Sport for Active Citizenship: Play2EDUCATE

Gena Sturgon is a Young Delegate from the United States and founder and director of ‘Play2EDUCATE’ (P2E).

The flagship initiative of this NGO was the ‘Girl Goals’ project which took place in Sojevë, Kosovo. The affected girls were predominantly ethnic Albanians and Serbs who ranged from 14-18 years of age.

The primary aim of this one-day annual event was to breakdown generational, gender, cultural, and ethnic biases among the diverse group of participants using football as the facilitator. This was achieved through the event’s promotion of cross-cultural exchange and prosocial behaviours related to inclusiveness, tolerance, and understanding to promote female empowerment. The event provided girls from eastern Kosovo a chance to engage with girls from different municipalities, ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds to break down stereotypes and help form prosocial relationships. Girls also had the opportunity to interact with successful female role models to gain inspiration, while simultaneously developing their football skills.

The day commenced with a panel of female guest speakers focusing on empowerment, equality, and inclusion – guest speakers included an athlete (Serbian), a youth worker (Albanian Kosovan), a helicopter pilot (American), and a lawyer (American). Basic football training was implemented for participants followed by cross-cultural exchange activities during interludes. Participants were then encouraged to converse about being a girl in Kosovo without constraints of ethnic identity and historical conflict. Dialogues aimed to foster critical thinking with regards to gender equality and gender stereotypes in Kosovar society. Following lunch, participants applied their newly developed football and teamwork skills in matches against each other.

The impact of the event was evaluated in two ways: 1) observation and verbal feedback from facilitators and staff; and 2) post-event feedback forms completed by participants. P2E staff and facilitators made observations throughout the day on the happenings of the event and then discussed them in debrief sessions. After the event, all participants were given a quantitative and qualitative feedback form in their native language. P2E also evaluated success based on the number of attendees (more than 50 for 2019), media mentions, social media engagement and interest from event partners and participants to host similar events in the future. As the Organisation Director and Project Manager, Gena learned an infinite number of things. It was evident that this event had a huge impact and therefore the aspiration is to expand the programme by increasing the financial and human resources of the NGO.

The text is taken from the Sport for Active Citizenship toolkit, the most important outcome of the 2019 Young Delegates meeting in Budapest, Hungary.

The Young Delegates meeting 2019 was supported by the Council of Europe through the European Youth Foundation.