For two years World YMCA has worked with INTERSPORT, an international sporting goods retailer with its head office based in Bern, Switzerland, to deliver projects and sports-related actions on the front line with our National Movements. Operating in 5,800 locations across 65 countries, INTERSPORT first focused its work with YMCA in Asia in 2018 before supporting initiatives in Europe this past year.
The first project built sports pitches and implemented sports camps for young people, migrants and the community. Perhaps the most impactful of these activities included building new sports pitches in Myanmar and Bangladesh. All the pitches have been finished and YMCAs are reporting young people and the community are using them daily for new activities.
“Earlier days we could only see the basketball game on the television but now we can play it,” said Simon Sangma, General Secretary of YMCA Birisiri in Bangladesh. “We have 20-30 young people regularly coming to our YMCA and divide into two teams to play basketball.”
This was followed up this year with two projects in Sweden and the Netherlands. YMCA Netherlands ran summer camps and were able to include more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds while YMCA Sweden was able to deliver community projects with a mix of camps and sporting projects including buying INTERSPORT branded clothes for their sports team.
“I personally visited the campsite when the camps were on. The smile on the faces was so great,” said Robert Feith, National General Secretary of YMCA Netherlands. “One young boy’s story will stay with me. He explained that he had never been on holiday and he had never done activities like they did at the camp stating, ‘we normally have to pay for these games.’ It gave me Goosebumps!”
The partnership is a great example of how partnerships at the global level are able to result in front line work and more importantly change. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with INTERSPORT in the coming years linking the work directly with our key impact area of health and underpinning the actions with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
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