Sport without Borders: International Sports Promotion of the Federal Foreign Office

07.03.2018 - Article
Sport ohne Grenzen: Isabell Werth
Sport ohne Grenzen: Isabell Werth© bild pressehaus

It stands for fairness, tolerance and peaceful competition: International Sports Promotion of the Federal Foreign Office is a global success story and one example of how sport can build bridges across linguistic, political and cultural divides. In the past 50 years the Federal Foreign Office and its partners – including the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), the German Football Association (DFB), the German Athletics Federation (DLV) and the Sport University in Leipzig – have supported more than 1,300 sporting projects in 100 countries as part of its International Sports Promotion. The Federal Foreign Office has been providing increased impetus to the global promotion of sport under the motto „On the Move – Overcoming Borders“. It aims to utilize the positive effects of sport to reduce prejudices, strengthen minorities and thus also contribute to international understanding. As an instrument of peace policy, many sports projects actively support conflict prevention and conflict resolution in the world. Every year roughly 50 short-term projects in over 30 countries are supported. Additionally, there are long-term projects in several countries that run for two to four years. One example is Afghanistan: German football experts Holger Obermann, Ali Askar Lali and Klaus Stärk supported the reconstruction of the Afghanistan Football Federation from 2002/2003 to 2009. In addition to the football projects for young people and men, which were backed by the German Football Association (DFB), the German team of experts also advanced the development of women’s football in the Hindu Kush.

Sport ohne Grenzen
Sport ohne Grenzen© KEYSTONE

Overall, German sports promotion covers very different disciplines in both amateur and professional sport. It also addresses specific target groups such as young people, women and the disabled. In 2009, in Guinea, West Africa, for example, the DOSB helped disabled athletes procure new wheelchairs for wheelchair basketball. A majority of the projects involve training and advanced training for coaches and athletes. Then there are projects that support the development and expansion of organizational structures or sporting venues. The fight against doping and violence in everyday life also plays a role, as examples in India and Honduras demonstrate. In New Delhi, for example, German sport scientists assisted in training staff at a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited anti-doping laboratory. In Central America, an advanced training course for football coaches and a training course in sport science had a clear goal: using sport as a means of preventing violence and aggression. In Ecuador, Chile, Peru and Namibia children are being playfully introduced to athletics in the Mini-Atletismo/Kid’s Athletics project. In this programme mixed teams of boys and girls compete against each other in the disciplines of sprinting, endurance running, jumping and throwing. The girls and boys jump over brightly coloured boxes, run through a course of painted tyres and demonstrate their sporting ability by throwing coloured rods at the sports stadium. These lively competitions focus on team spirit and fairness – and involve a readiness to engage in creative improvisation: German sport experts who are involved in building sustainable athletics structures in developing countries and have contributed to the development of the project often put together the necessary sporting equipment with their local colleagues on the spot. Old tyres, banana boxes and bottles are transformed into colourful sporting apparatus with a lot of paint and ingenuity.

Sport ohne Grenzen
Sport ohne Grenzen© KEYSTONE

For several years, a key area of the Federal Foreign Office’s sports promotion has been the continent of Africa, which is where roughly 70% of the funds go. Africa is also where an especially large number of long-term projects are running under the management of German sport instructors – in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania. However, cooperation with German sporting experts is very popular not only in Africa, but all over the world. Requests for projects are often sent directly to German embassies abroad from the countries themselves, before they can be forwarded to the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin and discussed with the DOSB. The department for sports cooperation at the DOSB in Frankfurt am Main coordinates global deployments of the sporting „ambassadors“ – and maintains close contact with the German coaches and trainers who travel the world as sports development workers by arrangement with their respective sports associations.

Copyright: Magazine Deutschland

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