Project characteristics and relevance
The EPIC-Basketball (Equal oPportunities through Inclusive Cooperation in Basketball) project has as its general objective (according to the topic of the call of proposals) to encourage equal opportunities in sport. In order to achieve this, the specific objective is to encourage the participation of women and raise awareness about gender equality in grassroots basketball.
It focuses on amateur female teams with players aged 17 and 18 as well as in the educational community up to that age from Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Italy. These are countries where basketball is an extended sport and with a capacity for social impact. And these are also countries in which exist incipient citizen debates and social movements related to gender equality.
The topic chosen responds to a particularly relevant problem. In most of the countries were the intervention is carried out (of which there is registration, which is not the case of Turkey, where sports participation data are not yet published among young people) the regular sport practice is not widespread among the youth. This is the case of Italy, one of the countries where sport is least practiced, while Portugal is below the European average (5% do so regularly, compared to 7%).
The truly relevant data for the Project is that, at European level, it indicates that the regular sport practice is much less entrenched among young women than among young men. According to the Special Eurobarometer published on March 2018, only 6% of women aged 15-24 years old play sport regularly against 12% of men. Increasing the percentage of women practicing sports is therefore one of the challenges in the continent; including the countries of the project partners, where it has also been detected that there is hardly any presence of women among the team coaches, regardless of being female teams or male teams.
Moreover, the connection existing to sports clubs, associations and entities (in which the partnership is focused) is in Europe lower among women for the mentioned age group. Only 15% of women are members of a Sport Club against 26% of men. Therefore, the project aims to increase the presence of women in organizations of this kind.
In order to increase the participation of women in the practice of basketball and raise awareness among local citizens about the importance of promoting equal opportunities through this sport, the partnership has designed, in a participatory way, a series of activities where positive discrimination in favour of women's participation is applied, and where young people of both sexes are sensitized in the importance of gender equality in sport and through sport.
The target of the project will be: groups of women who are eventually playing basketball in the present, women who used to play basketball in the past and want to go back playing again but have not found the opportunity yet, female coaches and young students from the different municipalities where the project is implemented and who will be sensitized on gender equality through sports.
For all of them, the objective of increasing women participation in the practice of sport is very relevant since it will open the doors to many future, actual or former athletes so they can join the sport practice as players or as coaches. In this regard, it should be noted that only between 20% and 30% of all sport coaches in Europe are women, as indicated by the European Institute for Gender Equality (http://eige.europa.eu/rdc/eige- publications / gender-equality-sport), and that in most cases female coaches train women's teams and in children´s categories. The project, nevertheless, aims to raise awareness and to qualify women so they can train both men and women in the junior categories.
In addition, the objective of the project will be relevant for the population of the municipalities where the intervention is carried out. This is because, through the practice of sports, the local youth and the local organizations will be sensitized and trained in values, fighting against negative gender stereotypes in sport. This allows that many factors external to sports that can affect women´s levels of participation and also many other factors at play within the sports sector itself, which can hamper the participation of women, can be addressed.
Likewise, municipal participation is supported in the implementation of the 2014-2020 European strategy for gender equality in sport and in the formation of a European Sports policy, as recommended, for the latter case, by the Committee of the Regions (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/3e9c6d76-9aa1-11e6-9bca-01aa75ed71a1).
It is under the premise of promoting collaboration between the public sector and sports entities to promote gender equality in and through sport and under the premise of promoting the formation of public policy based on good practices implemented at the local level, that the coordinator is a public body with experience in the conformation of this type of collaborations. In addition, the project has as a porpoise to carry out interventions in municipalities and small clubs, where the European dimension of sport finds more difficulties to be implemented.
This is the case of Pedreguer, in which its City Council has played an important role in the Club´s success, through a successful partnership that will be presented as a Good Practice to the rest of the consortium members. Similarly, it is responsible for mobilizing an entire municipality around the practice of basketball. This experience will not only be disseminated but also will be able to be lived by the rest of the partners in different awareness raising sessions and neighborhood coexistences, where they will be sensitized in gender equality, inclusion and European values.
The Project is innovative since it promotes the participation of women in sport activities through a comprehensive strategy, conceived in a participatory and systematized way, according to a methodology. It includes a package of coordinated actions of positive discrimination in sport activities, citizen awareness, visibility of the importance of gender equality and linking it to European values and current movements in defense of women's rights in the EU and Turkey, and the strengthening of capacities to achieve all this.
For this, a cooperative participation is established between sports clubs/associations, local authorities (City Council-Club partnerships) and universities that establishes synergies to make it possible with a limited budget and following the logic of a small collaborative partnership. It therefore combines the analysis provided by the academy, a strategy designed by the total number of partners, the formation of municipal public policy led by the municipalities and the applicability of pilot actions.
Another innovative approach is the small-scale work, implementing these pilot actions in rural municipalities with a small population and with public entities and sports groups of limited size and limited resources. These types of actors usually find it very difficult to access European non-structural funds that allow them to implement community policies.
The third relevant innovative element is the combination of the action with other complementary actions that can be financed through Regional Policy funds. Therefore, a specific activity is organized to capitalize the results of the project and to launch new initiatives charged to structural funds.
Equally relevant is the project's replicability potential, which is endowed with an easily transferable methodology and a sustainability model adapted to small municipalities, which allow certain project components to be easily implemented in other rural areas anywhere in Europe.
EU added value
The achievement of the results of the project is only affordable from a process of exchange of experiences and good practices where actors with extensive experience in partnerships and in the promotion of local participation for the promotion of sport (Pedregur-Predreguer Basketball Club), in management of projects (Margherita Sport e Vita), in analysis and studies on gender and sport (Inönü University), in campaigns and awareness (Margherita Sport e Vita and Assist) and in citizen participation through culture and sport (Carvalhais) provide specific knowledge in its scope of expertise to the rest of the members of the consortium. It was therefore necessary to achieve a sum of actors with a specific added value contribution difficult to find if only the national scale is applied.
Also, the awareness actions of the project are based on multiculturalism. Only by showing how similar problems have been successfully addressed in different contexts will make the beneficiaries aware of the importance, necessity, usefulness and feasibility of promoting and achieving gender equality in and through sports.
Likewise, in order to motivate and to sensitize, it is essential to show that gender equality responds to values shared by a broader community such as the European scale, showing in a specific training that is going to be given that gender equality is included in a Charter of Fundamental Rights and that there is a common work promoted by the European Commission to promote it in sport.
Lastly, a training in European projects will be offered so that it will allow partners and beneficiaries to present proposals to other European programs that could give continuity to the present call of proposal and could generate capabilities to actors located in rural environments for the attraction and management of funds.