Sport as a Tool for Inclusion: updates on the SIMPLE Project

srp 02, 2024

Gender, Inclusion & Human rights Linked project:

Sport plays an important role in our lives, helping to maintain good health and creating special bonds among those who practise it. The SIMPLE project—Sport, Inclusion, Movement, Participation, Learning, Environment – is funded by the Erasmus programme. It started on November 1st, 2023, and will continue until December 31st, 2024.

Project Overview and Goals

The aim of the SIMPLE project is to build a nexus between sport, social inclusion, and environmental protection through physical activity, sustainable practices, and a connection with local nature in Italy, Bulgaria, and Greece. The key elements of the project’s activities are to promote the inclusion of youth and people with disabilities through sport, help build healthy habits and well-being, and increase the capacity of grassroots sports sectors, social organisations, and public authorities to achieve these goals.

Context Analysis and Initial Findings

The consortium drafted a context analysis to develop the sport activities, highlighting the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that each region faces. This analysis was presented by IYII during the project’s kick-off meeting in Vicenza (Italy) on March 19th and 20th, 2024. The analysis confirmed that there is a wide variety of sports offered in the partner regions of Veneto (Italy), Varna (Bulgaria), Volos (Greece), and Strasbourg (France). Additionally, there are more than 4,900 registered sports clubs in the pilot territories, representing over 130 disciplines.

The predominant sports include football, swimming, basketball, sailing, athletics, gymnastics, yachting, climbing, running, and cycling.

Local Commitment and Resources

The development of sports and sporting activities in the partner regions benefits from strong local authority commitment, community interest, safe and well-organised facilities, and a dedicated pool of volunteers. Existing partnerships with local schools, businesses, and organisations further support sports programs. The natural environment and available public facilities suggest that the activities planned under the SIMPLE project are well-suited to the partner regions and can serve as a model for future events.

Key Deliverables and Implementation

Under the coordination of InnovED, the partnership completed three pivotal deliverables for the SIMPLE project in May 2024:

  1. Design of Safety Measures and Inclusive Strategies: This document sets up comprehensive safety protocols and inclusive practices to ensure that sporting environments are safe and accessible to participants of all abilities.
  2. Co-design of Activities: This introduces collaborative ways to engage young people under 15 years old and people with disabilities, making sports events sustainable and socially inclusive.
  3. Recommendations for Local Implementation: This report provides clear and concise advice to local authorities and sports organisations on delivering more accessible sporting venues and activities.

These efforts will enable the project to further its objectives of social inclusion and community development, laying the groundwork for sports activities and national events in Greece, Bulgaria, and Italy.

Local Events and Activities

Since the beginning of the project, Moana 60 has been actively implementing several events and activities within the framework of the SIMPLE project. In December, January, February and March local activities entitled “Discovering the territory” took place in several areas of the Veneto region. In detail: the Discovering the territory in Montecchio Maggiore of the 17th December, 2023; the Discovering the territory in Vicenza of the 28th January, 2024, the Discovering the territory in Lugo di Vicenza of the  25th February, 2024, the Discovering the territory in Monte Cengio – Tresche Conca of the 24th March 2024. Moana 60 has also been organising events at schools. One of these is the “Great Oak Meets the Sea” event organised in Thiene on the 4th of April, 2024, discussing future projects to raise awareness on the importance of environmental protection and social welfare.

The SIMPLE project demonstrates how sport can be a powerful tool for social inclusion and environmental awareness. By promoting physical activity and fostering connections within local communities, the project aims to create lasting positive impacts in Italy, Bulgaria, and Greece. As the project progresses, the insights and strategies developed will serve as valuable resources for other regions looking to leverage sport for inclusion and sustainability.