Covid has impacted many aspects of our lives, but the lack of opportunities to meet face-to-face and to build and maintain our friendships and relationships has been particularly difficult. With this in mind, it felt like the sun was emerging on a new dawn when students from the universities of Brighton, Palacky and Paderborn visited Berlin at the start of November to visit a variety of sport for development projects in the German capital.
Brighton students taking part in the field trip were from the MRes in Sport and International Development, BSc in Sport Coaching and Physical Education BA(Hons) with QTS.
Sport for development is a growing sector across Europe and the world and seeks to address key global challenges like health, equality and sustainability. Berlin has a rich variety of these projects working with schools and communities, as well as fans and participants.
The field trip was part of a highly successful Erasmus+ project called GloKnoCo, in partnership with the Universities of Paderborn (Germany) and Palcky (Czech Republic), with NGOs MSIS (Poland), Inex (Czech Republic), Football for Hope Peace and Unity (UK) and Play Handball (South Africa). Brighton was invited because of its existing Football 4 Peace project.
GloKnoCo operates by placing students at the heart of the project, by involving them in both an intensive learning week (providing the theory on the sport for development) and a fieldtrip (to give students the opportunity to see sport for development projects in practice). It seeks to build teaching and knowledge exchange links between universities and sport for development projects.
In Berlin, many of the projects were football-related. Participants visited the ‘Learning Stadium’ of Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin, StreetFootballWorld, KickFair and Discover Football. In addition there was also a visit to the former Nazi aircraft hangars at Tempelhof to see hot they had been repurposed into a multifunctional sport facility for young people, including basketball, weight training, roller blading and table tennis.
The organisation, Play!Ya, worked to provide free fun, exercise and games with communities who are excluded from other sport facilities due to costs, migration status or equipment. The field trip finished with students participating in wheelchair basketball with PfefferSport.
Mark Doidge, Principal Research fellow, said: “Sport for development is an increasingly importance sector in advancing UN sustainable development goals. It was great for students to see how projects operated in Berlin, and how these projects incorporated theoretical ideas into the practical activities of their work.”
Overall, the students and staff had a great time renewing old acquaintances, meeting new friends and making potential collaborations for future work. Despite the grey Berlin sky (and rain), the light is re-emerging.