Calls on sport movement to unite for social inclusion and join new Sport Inclusion Network (SPIN)

September 28, 2023

Sport should be equally accessible for all in society. However, marginalized groups face barriers when participating in sport and physical activities. The newly established Sport Inclusion Network (SPIN) addresses barriers of refugees, migrants and ethnic minorities, in particular women and girls. SPIN aims to make full use of sport as a means for social inclusion and integration.

Sport Inclusion Network invites groups

To mark the European Week of Sport the SPIN network calls on sport clubs, associations, NGOs, and minority initiatives as well as public institutions to unite for social inclusion in and through sport and join the new network. A key focus of SPIN is to support, empower and capacity-build grassroots initiatives. By lending practical support to small groups and promote migrant and minority self-organisations, they can harness their potential as key agents for social change.

The European Sport Inclusion Network (SPIN) has successfully operated as an informal network since more than a decade. In 2023, the seven founding organizations made a next logical step and registered SPIN as an international non-profit organization under Austrian law. This will open the network for organisations and groups in other parts of Europe such as the Western Balkans and in the Global South (e.g. sub-Sahra Africa).

SPIN Board member Joaquim Evangelista, president of the Portuguese Football Players’ Union said about the need of expanding the network:

“I believe that sports in general and football in particular, could be the most powerful tool to promote social justice and inclusion, in a world with constant change. SPIN is the result of commitment and vision of organizations with very different backgrounds, united in the ideal of transforming the lives of refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and other minorities or marginalized groups, through sports.”

Bella Bello Bitugu, Sport Director at the University of Ghana and SPIN Board member:

“The evolution and direction of modern sports with its complexities and focus on commercialization, winner takes all, influence and power means that certain groups and interests will be left on the journey. These are mainly the vulnerable, minorities, youth, girls and gender constructed groups, the prejudiced and stereotyped. It means therefore that sustainable and effective strategy towards, and for inclusion in sports is even more relevant now than ever, and thus calls for concerted and cross cutting action, participation and focus.”

International Board

In June the first SPIN Board has been elected. The board members are Bella Bello Bitugu (University of Ghana, Sports Directorate), Daniela Conti (Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti), Joaquim Evangelista (Sindicato dos Jogadores Profissionnais de Futebol, Portugal), Willie Westerhof (Huis voor Beweging, Netherlands), Jean-Marc Alingué (Liikkukaa Sport for All, Finland) and Des Tomlinson (Football Association of Ireland – co-opted). Kurt Wachter (fairplay Initiative for Diversity and Anti-discrimination/ VIDC, Austria) and Victoria Schwenzer (Camino Werkstatt, Germany) act as chair and vice-chair respectively.

Following a period of consultation and round table meetings with stakeholders and grass-roots initiative a general assembly will be organized in 2024 to decide on the future direction of the network.

Call for new members

SPIN is addressing organization active in the field of sport and social inclusion to contribute to the work of SPIN and become a member. Benefits for members include being part of an international network that promotes inclusion in and through different sports, exchange of best practices with experts and practitioners, developing ideas for a more inclusive sport, networking events that connect members and increase our common impact, support for grassroots clubs and initiatives in building their capacity to offer inclusive sport and forging partnerships for collaborative projects under the Erasmus+ programme.

The following types of membership are available: Organizational member (NGOs, grassroots initiative or sport clubs,…), Supporter or Institutional member (sport governing bodies, associations, public institutions, companies,..) and Individual member (without voting rights). Member ship fees are moderate allowing small groups or groups form poor countries to become members.

SPIN: Track record of innovative project work across the EU

Since 2011, SPIN evolved into an informal network implementing a series of innovative initiatives, research and projects, including Sport Inclusion Network, ESPIN, Sport Welcomes Refugees, SPIN Women, SPIN Refugees, and the forthcoming SPIN Youth (2024-2026). Key tools which have been developed include a European Training Programme, which is a replicable workshop curriculum for coaches and trainers at local sport club level to foster inclusiveness and intercultural competence, accompanied by the Electronic Learning Environment (ELE). Publications include Action research, Study reports, Good Practice Guides and Toolkits. On, the main information and dissemination hub, Web Tools including a Self-Assessment Tool for Sport Clubs and the SPIN Connecting Tool.

Learn more about member benefits and how to join SPIN.

Download the Info folder here.

SPIN on Social Media

Facebook: Sport Inclusion Network – SPIN

Twitter/X: @SPINnet_work

Instagram: sport_inclusion_network


Stefan Belabed, Network Coordinator

Sport Inclusion Network (SPIN)

Moellwaldplatz 5/9, 1040 Vienna, Austria

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