The European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation (ENGSO) is the European Sports NGO, the leading voice of voluntary sports organisations in Europe, representing National Sport Confederations and National Olympic Committees from 33 European countries.
As a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), ENGSO is a not for profit organisation with public responsibilities, this part of the civil society to address social and political issues.
As the European Sports NGO, ENGSO is part of the sports movement with the mission to promote the interest of grassroots sport in Europe. The main aim of ENGSO to be a bridge building organisation among different organisations dealing with grassroots sport activities. ENGSO serves as a European network of information and a platform of knowledge and experience. We seek common political positions and publicize these positions. Furthermore, ENGSO supports youth in sport through its youth organisation, as well as advocates for the role of sport in Europe, especially for the sustainable financing of grassroots sport, the integrity of sport and the societal role of sport. Advocating for the social role of sport, ENGSO prioritises the promotion of health-enhancing physical activity, education, training, employment and volunteering in sport, and social inclusion in and through sport.
Regarding social inclusion, ENGSO has always been of the opinion that “the sports organisation must be an arena in which everyone is included” (Guidelines for Children and Youth Sport 1998, Recommendation 6-The social possibilities of sport).
What have we done so far in the field of social inclusion?
The youth organisation of ENGSO has started to develop anti-racism tools as early as 2002. With the leadership of the German Sports Youth, a multilingual and transferable, computer-based youth leader education module has been created to raise awareness about discrimination, racism and xenophobia. Through the anti-discrimination work of the ARCTOS project within the last almost 15 years, the material has been translated into several languages and been implemented in other countries, for example Serbia.
In 2010, we published the ENGSO Manifesto on a Truly Inclusive Sport, proposing recommendations that cover the various aspects of social inclusion, including inclusion of immigrant populations, solidarity between generations, gender equality, anti-racism and anti-violence, sexual orientation and disability. ENGSO believes that “sport is attractive to people and sport is not always just sport. It also plays an important social role in including people from different backgrounds. […] ENGSO members are […] of the opinion that this role should be better harnessed.” (ENGSO Manifesto on a Truly Inclusive Sport)
The fact that ENGSO is unequivocally in favour of taking action to promote social inclusion in and through sport, was reemphasised not only in the ENGSO Statement 2011 on the Commission’s Communication “Developing the European Dimension in Sport”, but also in the “Creating a Level Playing Field” (CLPF) project. The project was brought into life with the aim to support sports and specialized organisations as well as public authorities to facilitate access to sport for people from different backgrounds.
What has been our motivation to launch and coordinate the ASPIRE project?
Based on our previous knowledge and experience, ENGSO is willing to continue its work and take concrete action in the field of social inclusion of people who are in risk of exclusion. We are excited to launch the ASPIRE project and work with partners that have vital experience in this interesting but complex matter. Most importantly, we have been confident that this project would be innovative as it would be looking at the sensitive issues of war-related trauma relief through sport and play, and all activities would be dully based on thorough research.
We hope that this project will leave a significant social legacy thanks to the work and expertise of the partners and the support of the Erasmus+ Programme and the European Lotteries.
Who are the people involved on behalf of our organisation?
Heidi Pekkola ASPIRE Project Manager
Heidi Pekkola is ENGSO’s Policy Director and Project Manager of ASPIRE. She has strong expertise in EU sports policy, especially in advocating for grassroots sport, as well as for the societal role of sport. Her areas of expertise include particularly social inclusion, volunteering, equality, health and governance of sport. In addition, Heidi has been involved in several EU-funded sports projects. Before ASPIRE, she was a Project Manager of SCORE (“Strengthening Coaching with the Objective to Raise Equality”), which was a project on gender equality in coaching, running 2015-2016. SCORE project was selected as success story of Erasmus+ programme by the European Commission. Before her current position Heidi worked as Special Advisor for International Relations at the Finnish Sports Confederation. She is a passionate sportswoman and an ultimate frisbee player, who has won the European Championships with the Finnish national team in 2007.
Sallie Barker Leader of Work Package 3 - Development and Testing of the ASPIRE Training Module
Sallie Barker has had a long a long career in sports administration at national and European levels. She has worked for both a government agency and a national voluntary sports association. During her time in these organisations she was involved in addressing the inclusion agenda, particularly for women and sport. Sallie is a keen volunteer in sport and is the Honorary Secretary of the Torch Trophy Trust, Chair of the Safeguarding Adults in Sport Working Group, Board Member of England Lacrosse, as well as holding a number of roles within the organisation, the most recent of which is as Chair of the Organising Committee for the 2017 FIL Rathbones Womens Lacrosse World Cup. Until recently she was a Member of the Executive Committee of the European Non Governmental Sports Organisations. Sallie was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List for her services to sport and women’s participation in sport.
Orsolya Tolnay ASPIRE Project Coordinator
Orsolya has participated in sports ever since she can remember. She believes in sport's positive values and lives accordingly. That is how she has managed to study at two universities parallel (Sport Management - correspondence, European Studies - full-time), and attain scholarships at the German Sports University and the EOC EU Office to specialise herself in the field of European sports policy. She has been contributing to the development of ENGSO in the field of communication and advocacy since 2012, including two successful project applications from the Erasmus+ Programme.
She strives for creating opportunities for others to experience the contribution of sports to their lives, especially in the field of health, education, volunteering, tolerance, inclusion, gender equality and sustainable development. Mrs Tolnay advocates for the power of sport for social change.