Our Project ''Sport in the park''
I met our street worker Giresse, who has been meeting regularly with young people for some time as part of the project "Sport in the Park" and invites them to do sports with him, outside in the park, and to get into exchange through movement. I asked him a few questions about this project. You can read the exciting answers here:
Can you tell me what is behind the project "Sport in the park"?
Sport in the Park started because we noticed in the Corona period that the young people from home were doing lessons on Zoom and were on their cell phones and computers all the time. Of course, it is a bit exhausting for them to be online all the time and they have lost contact with other young people as a result. That's why we decided to do a project after the lockdown, where we invite young people to go out and do some sports in the park and rebuild relationships. Through sports, the young people can move again and we can build relationships with them. Just as they can build relationships with each other. That's what the project is about.
How does a "Sport in the park" meeting work?
A meeting lasts 2-3 hours in total. When the young people come, we first have a little time to talk and ask them how they are doing, how it was at school and how their everyday life is going and so on. After that we have a time where we play together, either basketball, table tennis or soccer, just to loosen up a bit and warm up. When we're done warming up, then we really start doing sports. Mostly we do boxing, so boxing combined with fitness and there's always a certain aspect in the training that I work out. For example, the young people are frustrated and also angry about something because they have to stay at home all the time and only have classes online. In boxing, I show them how to let out that frustration. I want to show them how to deal with that aggression. In boxing, it's called sparring when you fight one on one. The other person is trying to hurt you, of course, and if you get hit, for example, how do you react to that? I want to teach young people that when they do that, they don't go at the person in anger and beat them up, but they learn to cash in and stay calm. In life you will always get hit, but you still can't go after everyone, teachers, family or classmates and beat everyone up. That's how you learn to deal with it, to take something sometimes, and that's what I want to pass on to the young people. In every training session, we talk about something important, either respect or strategies to deal with your aggression or frustration - or how the young people are dealing with it at the moment. Each time, I take one aspect that I highlight and ask again after the training how it was for the youth, how they perceived that aspect, if anything changed in their thinking, and how they feel about that. Then at the end of the training we have a time where we eat together. So the training itself always takes about 2 hours and then until we have eaten, it usually takes 3 hours or sometimes 4 hours.
What motivates you to do this project?
I am a passionate sportsman, fitness trainer and boxer and for me sport means something that connects many young people. Many want to play sports, whether it's soccer, boxing or fitness and I just realized that I can use that to build relationships with the youth. Before young people want to learn something from you, you have to have a relationship with them first, otherwise you can't teach them anything and you can't tell them anything. This is exactly the problem that schools have. The teachers:inside don't have a relationship with the young people and when they tell them something, the young people don't listen to them.
What is the biggest challenge for you in the project?
There are no big challenges . The only challenge is the young people's schedules. Some have relatively long school and when I set a date, I always have to play a bit of ping-pong so that as many as possible have time. If only two teens show up, I have to do the training in such a small group at times. So the challenge is to find a fixed time when everyone can. That is a bit difficult.
How many young people are usually at a training session?
On average, there are always about four young people and me, so there are five of us. The goal is to always have about five people who regularly participate in the training.
What has been your best experience at "Sport in the park" so far?
I think it's just the enthusiasm that comes from the young people. When they write to me, even if I cancel a training session and let them know that unfortunately there will be no Sport in the Park this time. When they then write to me of their own accord and ask when Sport im Park is again and simply show interest, then that is a very nice experience for me because it shows me that the project also brings something to the young people.
What is your vision for "Sport in the park"?
My vision is to build something together with the group I do sports with, to grow with them and go further with them. For example, we participated in a soccer tournament last time. My goal, whether it's soccer or boxing, is that we also participate in competitions and that the group really builds each other up, feels empowered and achieves something together. That's exactly my vision, that we not only do sports together there but that we also achieve something together as a group.
Thank you Giresse for taking the time for the interview and for doing such valuable work with the youth! We would also like to thank the sponsors of the project "outreach GmbH" and "Bezirksfonds Integration 2021 - integrative "projects with young refugees"", who make this project possible!