Sport & Cohesion

Over the course of the year leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands wants to build mutually beneficial relationships between the UK and Dutch sport and cohesion sectors. We want to assess where and how the two countries can complement each other's knowledge and experience in terms of policy and delivery and provide opportunities for them to do so. For the Embassy, this is a new public diplomacy project, the aim of which is to explicitly build networks and engage with civil society organisations in the Netherlands and the UK (rather than simply broadcast a message). The UK and the Netherlands share similar challenges on social cohesion and integration. The Embassy has run both practical projects and policy discussions on sport and cohesion over the past few years. So this project both builds on and represents a continuation of that approach in order to add real value to sport and cohesion sector in both countries.
Panna Knock Out
In 2008 the Dutch Embassy introduced the Dutch Panna Knock Out street football in the UK as part of its public diplomacy policy. Panna is used to improve social cohesion in the Netherlands, and now abroad as well. The initial aim of the project was to showcase examples of continued successful integration of social and ethnic minorities with innovative solutions to the challenges around immigration and participation in the Netherlands. Gradually this aim evolved into a broader dialogue between the sectors. The new aim was to build mutually beneficial networks of social cohesion professionals in the UK and Dutch. As such, this became a new public diplomacy project for the Embassy.
One of the lasting results of Panna was a sustainable and proactive sport and cohesion network of organisations in the UK and the Netherlands. Exchange projects were set up between British practitioners such as Arsenal in the Community, Aquaterra, Football Foundation and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and Dutch practitioners Cruyff Foundation and Sportservice Nederland. The Embassy wanted to capitalise on these valuable relationships by hosting a Sport and Cohesion Conference in December 2010 in London. The conference proved once again the high levels of interest and enthusiasm about learning and working together among policy makers and practitioners/delivery agencies in both countries, and became a huge incentive for the Embassy to do more with this network.
Moving forward
The big question was how. The Embassy has no expertise in this field so decided to consult the network itself. After a high-level meeting in the Netherlands, attended by the Cruyff Foundation, Krajicek Foundation, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Netherlands Institute for Sport and Physical Activity (NISB) a.o., the Embassy commissioned research institutes Substance (UK) and the Mulier Institute (NL) to jointly conduct research into each respective countries' sport and cohesion sector, including their strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, in order to provide a framework for the embassy’s role in adding value to the network and the Anglo-Dutch relationships.

This report was presented at a follow-up meeting on 4 July, 2011 to as broad a group of group of sport and cohesion experts from both countries as possible. The aim was to again consult this group of people and organisations on possibilities for cooperation between Dutch and British sport for development providers. The outcome of the meeting was to divide ‘cohesion’ in more specific themes and come up with projects to deliver within each one. Several topics arose during the subsequent discussion, such as the sport club structure and the different socio-religious pillars in the Netherlands, or the more targeted approach of the British sports for development sector. Eventually five themes were chosen and working group was established for each theme:
1. Monitoring, evaluation, SROI and the demonstration of impact in the sport for development sector
2.  Sport, ethnic/social groups and community cohesion
3. Participation (physical activity and tackling obesity) and inclusiveness (disabled people, the elderly and those in ill health)
4. Sport, delinquency, anti-social behaviour and crime
5. Sport structures, club organisation, volunteering, civic engagement and transitioning
Ultimately, the aim is to develop sustainable exchanges in the sport for development sector on three levels:  1) grass roots programme delivery,  2) policy oriented exchanges, and  3) high profile/ communicative events
Working groups
On the 3rd and the 9th of November, workshops took place for four of these working groups. Each of these workshops were attended by approximately fifteen people from different organisations. These organisations ranged from policy makers to researchers to grass roots practitioners:

UK: Greater London Authority, Islington Council, Aquaterra, Comic Relief, Arsenal in the Community, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, Leyton Orient Community Sports Programme, Active Communities, Cricket for Change, Catch 22, The Guerreiras Project, Substance, Aqumen Social Technologies, Streetfootballworld, Brunel University, Ulster University.

NL: Cruyff Foundation, Teamplay NAC, NISB, Utrecht University, Sportservice Nederland BV, Movisie, WJH Mulier Institute, ICE-Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Municipality of The Hague, Olympisch Vuur, NBB Basketball, Women Win, Dimedi Academy.

The sessions intended to do three things: a) exchange relevant information that would add value to policy discussions in both countries, b) strengthen relationships, and c) primarily to come up with sport for development projects deliverable in 2012. The term ‘project’ is used in a very broad sense: it may include, though is not restricted to, grassroots interventions, knowledge exchange, collaborative research, internships, secondments etc. The process has to be sustainable so it still has value after the Olympics have taken place. The workshops were led by a moderator with particular experience in this field. With the use of a specific method called ‘Technology of Participation’, several ideas came across and first steps were made towards collaboration.
Follow up
Before Christmas 2011, the attendees of the workshops will decide which projects to run next year and make up of the project teams will be determined. The next step for these teams will be to write proposals for their projects aimed at finding corporate sponsors for each of the projects, as this is critical. Meanwhile, the Embassy will keep expanding the network by actively looking for more organisations to involve in these collaborations. Many more organisations have expressed their interest in working on this initiative (Sported, Coventry Council, FARE, Right 2 Play, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, De Sportbank, NOC*NSF, Meer dan Voetbal, Gemeente Den Bosch, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Nederlandse Sport Alliantie, Football League, Irish FA, Youth Sport Trust, Fight for Peace, Sport England a.o.).