Youth Movement Power promoting inclusivity and developing sports equality among children

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Youth Movement Power promoting inclusivity and developing sports equality among children

Youth Movement Power project, whose ambassadors are Mateo Kovacic, Croatian football player currently playing for Chelsea, Slavko Goluza and Mirza Dzomba, former handball players and Olympic gold medallists, is scheduled from 13 to 16 April 2022 in famous Croatian region Istria. Let us introduce this international sports and education program focused on healthy life habits for children as well as on promoting the social responsibility and education.

YMP is a project which welcomes everyone. Adults, youngsters, children with disabilities, educators, coaches, etc. One of the things which sets this project apart from others is that there are no restricted applications, and everyone can apply. Although it is mostly focused on handball, the project is divided into three categories: Croatia Trophy, Special Power League and Symposium. The main part of the project is Croatia Trophy Tournament, international tournament that hosts more than 3000 young players, aged 9 to 17, from more than 80 sports clubs and countries such as Austria, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Spain, Denmark and China. Some of them compete in handball and others in football. As of this year, youngsters will have a chance to compete in American football as well. Every year the project organizers are working on implementing new sport disciplines into the tournament because they want to popularize non-mainstream sports on a national level. Except American football there were Marbles and Teqball – a ball sport that is played on a curved table, combining elements of football and table tennis.

In addition, there is a Special Power League, football, and handball league for children with disabilities which was established in 2018 and with the intention to motivate the children with disabilities to integrate into society through sports. The league and the whole project as well are of inclusive character, which means that all children can apply, regardless of the degree of disability they have. There are 11 teams, coming from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany and Serbia.

Special Power League and similar projects have only a positive effect on the health of children with special needs. The project is inclusive because we don’t want to segregate children based on their disability, we want to include everyone: the children with Down Syndrome, children with autism, and with other physical and mental disabilities” said Kristian Batelic, YMP project manager.

Following the Special Power League, there is also the educational component of YMP called Symposium which focuses on different topics each year such as diabetes and the problem of obesity in children, including children with disabilities in sports, etc.

The educational symposium is an opportunity to discuss current topics and problems that sport faces through a different approach. There is also the training of coaches and professional staff in working with children with disabilities, topics focused on how to adapt sports activities to COVID, etc. This includes lecturers, parents, children, and all of whom are actually interested in these discussions”, said Batelic.

The idea for the whole project comes from Dario Jagic, former Croatian junior national team member, sports director of HC Rovinj and vice president of HC Medulin. Jagic started the project as a handball tournament and given his experience in the field, it was the only logical move. But since 2014, when the YMP started, a lot has changed. From one handball tournament, YMP became an international project which includes different sport disciplines and whose mission and vision are promoting the positive values and establishing a new dimension of social responsibility through the development of sports equality among children.

The project with UEFA, EHF and CFF recognition, which won silver medal at the 2020 UEFA Grassroots Award in Best Disability Initiative category, unites all the different aspects of social responsibility by their collaboration with different associations such as: Association Down Zagreb, Split and Rijeka, School of Education – Pula, Ivan Stark Center for Education from Osijek, Sports Association “Veliko srce” from Koprivnica, Autism Association “Pogled” from Nedelisce and others.

It is an honour to be an ambassador of this project. I think that YMP and similar projects are very much needed in handball and sports in general, because they allow children to become acquainted with sports and athletes from a young age. It’s important that we teach younger generations about social responsibility, education, healthy lifestyle, and especially about respect towards other children who have certain disabilities but are no different than other kids. And what a better way to do it than through sports!” said Slavko Goluza, the ambassador of the YMP project.

This year the competitors of YMP will have a chance to compete in the following categories:

U9 boys and girls born 2013U11 boys born 2010/11U13 boys and girls born 2008/09
U11 boys and girls born 2011U13 boys and girls born 2008/09U15 boys and girls born 2006/07
U13 boys and girls born 2009U15 boys and girls born 2006/07

Starting as a small handball tournament, Youth Movement Power positioned itself as an amazing international story which connects various segments of society throughout sports. Its inclusivity and social responsibility are what makes the project worth knowing for and what a better way to celebrate it, than to participate in it. (EM)