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News 16 Mar 2020

EL supports ENGSO-led Erasmus+ Sport project to foster mental well-being in sport

Spirit project with ENGSO

The Sport and Psycho-social Initiative for Inclusive Training (SPIRIT) project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme, has officially begun! EL has become a reliable and invaluable advocate for the role of sport in society and it has lent its backing as a ‘Supporting Partner’ to this initiative.

Mental illnesses are some of the most prominent health problems in the world today, directly affecting up to 25 percent of the global population. Individuals who have endured trauma, such as refugees, are even more likely to experience mental health issues. From 2-4 March 2020, project partners from across Europe came together in Brussels to mark the start of the SPIRIT project.

The project and its partners have ambitious objectives to challenge normalised practices in organised sport environments which are harmful to the mental well-being of their participants. Through research and then the development and implementation of practical resources, SPIRIT will empower sport clubs and coaches to deliver more humane coaching which nurtures mental well-being and will ultimately make sport in Europe more inclusive.

Key outputs to expect include a review of research on sport and mental health; a mapping of good practices; a set of recommendations for sport clubs; a coaching framework; and an online education tool which will be made accessible for practising and aspiring coaches around the world to make sure their coaching protects mental wellbeing.

As Project Coordinator, ENGSO organised the project’s first kick-off meeting in Brussels, bringing together key representatives from an excellent consortium of partners with expertise in sports research, sport delivery, mental health, inclusive sport and the inclusion of migrants and refugees.

EL’s Senior Policy Advisor and Sport Secretary Alvise Angelini who represents EL in the project says: ‘‘The SPIRIT project is an extremely important initiative to support and empower vulnerable individuals who experience mental health illnesses every day. EL is proud to be a supporting partner and will continue to advocate for responsible sport practices which benefit and protect those individuals with prominent health problems globally. We look forward to working closely with ENGSO, the European Commission and all the partners on making this project a success’’.

Important discussions on this challenging topic, some key decisions and great work has already taken place to mark the productive beginnings of what is set to be a strong collaboration for real and much needed change.

All project partners are grateful to EL’s stance against harmful practice and the readiness to promote innovative solutions that will protect and strengthen the mental wellbeing of participants in sport. EL will be actively involved in the dissemination of the new coach education resources and support national events across Europe.

Project partners include: European Lotteries (EL); International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE); MonaliikuBulgarian Union for Physical Culture and Sports (BUPCS); Minor-NdakoMental Health Finland (MIELI); Sports Federation Union of Catalonia (UFEC); International Table Tennis Federation Foundation (ITTFF); Hellenic Paralympic CommitteeFlemish Athletics Federation (FAF), and; Flanders Sports Agency.