Sport Diplomacy Academy
October 12-17, 2019 – Sofia
This week, 20 sport fans departed from Italy to attend the first module of Sport Diplomacy Academy, held in Sofia (Bulgaria). This new project involves 80 participants from different fields related to sports (sport administrators, volunteers and coaches) from four different countries. It focuses on cooperation with the Western Balkans as a logical continuation of all activities carried out under the #EU2018BG Priority and involves partners from the following countries: Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The idea behind Sport Diplomacy Academy is to improve the skills and competencies of the participants, as well as their qualifications, through learning mobility, which will be held in each partner country. Ultimately, at the end of the project, each partner country will have 20 well-trained ‘diplomats in sport suits’, with practical skills and knowledge in the field of sport diplomacy. These skills and knowledge include policy dialogue and international relationship, campaign creation, successful communication, public speaking, media relationships, protocol and etiquette, and EU foreign policy and values. These ‘diplomats in sports suits’ will be a valuable asset to their country, because it will allow empowered athletes to and sport administrators to promote their countries on the international stage.
The first module, held in Sofia, focuses first and foremost on sports ecosystems, the opportunities for the development of sports and diplomacy in the daily activity of sport structures. Topics at hand varied, ranging from an overview of the workings of the EU to sport policies in municipalities, through the multicultural dimension of sports and political dialogue in sports. They discussed the economic dimension of sports, as well as the horizontal character of it, exploring the links between sports and health. All of this was done through a mix of non-formal education tools, working in small, mixed groups, and participants had the opportunity to reflect and express their opinions on these topics. They took advantage of the fact that they were working with a varied group of different cultural backgrounds, which allowed them to encounter daily realities and working methods different from their own. This, in turn, led to a vivid exchange of best practices.
All of this took place with the beautiful Bulgarian capital as a background, and all participants enjoyed getting to know the city. They even engaged in local sports culture, going to see a soccer game between Bulgaria and the UK!
Our Italian delegation is now on its way home, their heads full of new-found knowledge. They have just enough time to process it and mull it over, because early December they leave again, this time to Sarajevo, for the second SDA module!
Interested in keeping up with our Italian diplomats and the entire SDA project? Don’t hesitate to check out their Facebook page here!