SPIN Network - A Brief History

A Brief History of the Sport Inclusion Network (SPIN)

Aims of the SPIN Network are:

  • Promote inclusion through sport and physical activity among disadvantaged groups, in particular ethnic minorities, migrants and women
  • Raise awareness and share best practices among sport stakeholders how to pro-actively involve vulnerable groups in and through sport
  • Support, empower and capacity-build grass-roots initiatives and minority organisations
  • Make innovative use of sport as an educational tool and particularly targeting young people
  • To address pro-actively racism, sexism, homophobia and any form of discrimination in sport
    and in society and develop methods and tools to overcome these issues
  • To promote dialogue and equal cooperation with sport-for-development initiatives and stakeholders outside the European Union and in the Global South

How it started

Migrants and ethnic minorities across the EU – in particular women and girls – face barriers when it comes to do practice sport and physical activities. Furthermore, the under-representation of migrants and their exclusion from positions of authority and the lack of advancement of minorities in non-playing positions is a recurring issue for European sport.

Against this backdrop, the fairplay initiative at VIDC brought together in 2010 a group of NGOs and sport organisations from 7 EU countries to address inclusion issues in sport. They designed the “Sport Inclusion Network (SPIN)” project which aimed to encourage the inclusion and involvement of migrants, ethnic minorities and asylum seekers through and in mainstream sport.

In 2011, the European Commission started to fund the first “SPIN” project. The underlying idea of SPIN was to raise awareness, increase networking and sharing of best practices among European & national sport stakeholders how to pro-actively involve migrants in and through sport. A second pillar was to empower and capacity-build migrant sport teams and initiatives including refugees and asylum seekers.

Successful European projects

After the end of the project in 2012 all partners decided to continue to work together, despite the lack of funding. With the launch of the Erasmus+ sport programme we developed and implemented a series of innovative projects: The first ERAMUS+ collaborative partnership project was “European Sport Inclusion Network (ESPIN)” (2015-2017) which was followed by “Sport Welcomes Refugees” (2018-2019) and “Sport Inclusion of Migrant and Minority Women” (SPIN Women) (2019-2020).

Lately, the SPIN partners have been successful with the European Commission funded project “Sport Inclusion of Refugees across Europe” (SPIN Refugees). The three-year project (2020-2022) aim of the SPIN Refugees project is to enhance the social inclusion and participation of asylum seekers and refugees on the local sport level through training, education and capacity-building of local sport stakeholders.

Partnership & Outputs

SPIN brings together experienced national key players in the field of sport & social inclusion with highly qualified staff: the Austrian based fairplay initiative for diversity and anti-discrimination at VIDC, the Italian sport for all association UISP, a leading UEFA member association on interculturalism in football, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), the Portuguese FIFPro member SJPF, the migrant-led Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organization (HU), the Finnish multicultural sport for all initiative Liikkukaa and Camino (DE), an expert on action-oriented research on sport and youth.

The intense SPIN partnership over the last years has allowed for the development of a series of innovative methods, products and events. SPIN publications all informed by qualitative empirical research include:

Furthermore, multiplier trainings for different sport stakeholders (trainers, clubs, federations) and also European awareness-raising events such as the Football Refugee Day and the Innsbruck Seminar “Involving Young Migrants in Winter Sports” (2012) or the regular European networking conferences – Vienna (2011) , Budapest (2017) , Lisbon (2018) and the SPIN Women conference in Vienna (2021).

On June 1, 2021 the international Sport Inclusion Network (SPIN) has been launched during the Vienna conference. Ahead of the Vienna event, the founding organisations underwent an in-depth discussion process and agreed to formalize the network. Finally, they drafted statutes with the aim of involving a broad range of new member organisations. By the end of 2021, the SPIN network will be registered as a Non-profit association according to Austrian law.

Core functions of the SPIN partnership include:

  • Developing and delivering high quality training and educational tools for sport stakeholders
  • Reflection, analysis and research: creating an evidence-base for social inclusion through sport interventions and practice
  • Facilitating action at a grassroots level (empower and lending practical support to small groups and promote migrant and minority self-organisations as key agents for social change)
  • Advocacy and lobbying for policy change at a European and national level
  • Raising public awareness through public interventions and campaigning (influencing public discourse, develop counter narratives)

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