The 'Voga&Share' project
Protocol number 622268-EPP-1-2020-1-IT-SPO-SCP, co-funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme for sport, is led by the Centro Universitario Sportivo di Palermo and the partners are the University of Murcia (Spain), Asd Margherita Sport e Vita Basket (Italy), Rijeka Sports Association for Persons with disabilities (Croatia), Institul National de Cercetare pentru Sport (Romania) and Ligue D’Aviron de Pays de la Loire (France).
Voga & Share focuses on the practice of rowing, and although this sport is considered to be among the most complete in that it mobilizes the whole body and promotes concentration aimed at achieving a goal, its dissemination, particularly among young people, does not get the echo it deserves. In many EU countries, rowing is often reserved for adults and does not involve the younger generation as it should. We have a cultural and educational gap to fill.
Rowing is one of the oldest traditional European sports, and already in the fifth book of the Aeneid, Virgil writes about a rowing competition organized by the Trojan prince Aeneas to honor the death of his father Anchises: we are talking about a work written between 29 and 19 B.C., so we can say that this sport has such ancient origins. Although rowing has deep roots in history, unfortunately among the new generations, and especially in school education, the practice of this sport is very rare. Although it is an activity accessible to all ages, as it is a gradual and progressive discipline, rowing is especially recommended for young people: the movements are shock-free, thus reducing the risk of injury. Learning is progressive and adapted to each person’s abilities and characteristics. It is a fact that sports education in schools is often limited to the most popular sports (football, basketball, volleyball…) leaving many areas of interest for many students unexplored.
Based on the analysis carried out and the experience of the partners of the various sports clubs, we have noticed that these groups bring their expertise into the school system sporadically and intermittently; the promotion and utilization of sports club expertise occurs only in a few EU countries and in a non-systematic way.
A great resource of skills and knowledge is therefore wasted, while the experience and preparation of clubs, perfected by years of presence in different territories, could be better exploited, creating stable collaborations and educational and didactic synergies between schools and clubs.
In fact, rowing is still not included in school physical education, even in areas where the presence of bodies of water (sea, lakes, rivers, streams) should encourage the spread of this practice.
One example above all: a city like Venice, built on and around water with an ancient rowing tradition, does not fully exploit this great sporting and cultural heritage, and synergies between clubs and schools are still rare, sporadic, or occasional.
In line with the objectives of the Erasmus plus programme, which aims to “achieve a positive and sustainable impact on education, training, youth and sports policies and practices”, the project focuses on creating a positive link between different areas of education and sports, providing young people with a tool for confrontation and growth with great impact, improving the skills of sports clubs for the benefit of schools, with a focus on environmental protection, supporting rowing as an alternative to motorized boating, which has a strong negative impact on water quality. The project also aims to “encourage integration, social inclusion and equal opportunities in and through sport”, to involve young people at risk of dropping out of school or social exclusion, with the aim of strengthening their commitment to sporting activity, which might otherwise be a barrier to possible radicalization or dangerous isolation.
The project also offers young people the opportunity to improve their health by practicing sport with other students from different countries, speaking a non-native language, being a team player and strengthening their sense of belonging to the Union through the creation of ‘European’ teams. Thus, each partner selects and trains a group of 20 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 (50:50 gender balance) in rowing, with a view to participation in the Venetian Vogalonga on 28 May 2023. From this sample, each of the partners, according to criteria jointly established by the partnership, will select 10 young people (50:50 gender balance) to be physically brought to the event.
In the days leading up to the event, the teams from the various organizations taking part in the project will get to know each other, team up and practice rowing together, and then participate in the sporting event with mixed crews. In the spirit of social inclusion, the Croatian partner will carry out the same activity with young people with intellectual-relational disabilities. The partnership will participate in the event with different types of rowing boats, depending on the predisposition of the pupils, the preferences of the coaches, and the availability of the boats themselves.
During the course of the project, the partnership experts are working on the production of various texts useful to schools and clubs for the dissemination and improvement of the discipline’s methodologies, which can be downloaded free of charge from the documents section of this website. More specifically, the following are being produced: VOGA & TRAIN, THE TRAINERS MANUAL; VOGA& CARE MANUAL; VOGA&SAVE THE PLANET EDUCATIONAL GUIDELINES; VOGA&FUN SURVEY RESULTS: How can we promote sport among youngsters? and VOGA&SHARE VADEMECUM.
In addition, for each of the two European Sport Weeks, occurring during the project duration, each of the partners will organize local sport multiplier events aimed at reaching out to stakeholders in the various local communities, which will be useful both during the course of the project and for possible continuation of the project beyond the duration of the co-funding.