Young Athletes to Promote Reconciliation and Cooperation in Region

BAR – RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro in partnership with the Ministry of Sports and Youth of Montenegro, supported by the French Embassy to Montenegro, organized a three-day sports camp Intercultural Competencies in Sports in Bar, Montenegro on 8 – 10 November. The event gathered 23 successful young professionals in different sport disciplines from Montenegro, providing them with the opportunity to discuss possibilities for youth cooperation and intercultural learning through sport.

The main objective of the camp was to support young athletes through enhancing cooperation among them and strengthen their intercultural competences. Furthermore, it aimed to provide young people with an opportunity to build their capacities in areas of youth participation and activism, to strengthen their intercultural learning through sports with a strong regional component, and to raise their awareness of opportunities for participation in mobility programs throughout the Western Balkans.

The official opening of the camp was attended by Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro Mr Edin Koljenović, French Ambassador to Montenegro H.E. Ms Christine Toudic, Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Bar Ms Tanja Spičanović, Director General of the Directorate for Sports Mr Miloš Lalević, and Governmental Representative of Montenegro in the RYCO Governing Board Mr Nenad Koprivica. They agreed that successful young athletes present the essential resource in promoting the ideas of reconciliation and cooperation in Montenegro and beyond.

Addressing the participants, Mr Koljenović presented the work of RYCO, highlighting the efforts that have been invested so far on the regional and local levels to make the Western Balkans a better place for young people. On the other hand, Ms Toudic emphasized that she is particularly pleased to address the participants since the camp gathered young female soccer players and France organized a women’s soccer championship last year. She added that sport plays an important role in all our societies, as it presents a strong instrument for establishing social connections, intercultural dialogue, and social integration.

Furthermore, Mr Koprivica added that the co-management principle practiced in the RYCO Governing Board is especially valuable for young people as it allows them to decide on an equal footing with the representatives of the WB governments on youth-related topics reflected in the RYCO’s mandate. Finally, Mr Lalević pointed out that he is pleased for such an event being organized in Bar, a multicultural and multiethnic town. He underlined that the Government of Montenegro recognized the importance of the sports by investing around 12 million euros in this domain in the last three years and providing approximately 400 sportsmen with scholarships for their extraordinary results achieved in the area of sports.

The camp is planned to be accompanied by follow-up activities aiming to create a new group of RYCO youth ambassadors and promoters in their respective communities. This group of youngsters, who are successful in sport, should be role models within young generations with strong potential to promote RYCO values, but also to promote what RYCO offers to youngsters in the region.

The participants were representing the Paralympic Association, Karate Federation, Judo Federation, Tennis Federation, Kickboxing Federation, Athletic Association, Women’s Soccer Club FC Breznica, Secondary Vocational School Berane, Secondary School of Economics and Catering Niksic.

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