BSDA is partner in ESVOL project
22.11.2018
According to official EU data, the European society suffers currently of lack of involvement in sport and physical activity and people are often not aware about the importance of healthy lifestyle. Sport organizations all over Europe play a crucial role in encouraging and engaging people to get physically active, but the level of civic involvement in voluntary activities related to sport is also warning.

Despite the need, sport organizations invest little in volunteer training. The lack of training to develop critical sport volunteer leadership competencies is holding back non-profit sport organizations, impeding their growth, and the realization of their full potential. In addition to this, European citizens are facing various social problems. For instance, obesity and overweight are a major pandemic in the EU. Furthermore, other issues such as growing inequality and youth unemployment are other social issues that need to address by all related stakeholders including sport stakeholders.

The concept of social leadership is associated with the development of those individuals who are the driving forces behind not-for-profit organisations and who are working to bring about social change. A chronic challenge for the sport sector is seeking out volunteer social leaders. Untrained and unskilled volunteers are assuming social leadership positions simply by showing up at meetings. This suggests there is a critical need for volunteer leadership training in the field of sport.

Volunteers in leadership positions, even the most experienced, require training to understand their roles and responsibilities. They need knowledge and skills in order to capably and confidently discharge their responsibilities. In addition, there is no single source organization mandated or responsible to establish volunteer social leadership competency standards or guidelines and provide learning opportunities.

On the other hand, according to European Commission, social innovations are new ideas that meet social needs, create social relationships and form new collaborations. These innovations can be products, services or models addressing unmet needs more effectively. The European Commission's objective is to encourage market uptake of innovative solutions and stimulate employment.

The Commission’s actions on social innovation stem from the Innovation Union initiative (2010) and of the Social Investment Package (2013). These actions facilitate the inducement, uptake and scaling-up of social innovation solutions. The main objectives are:

  • promoting social innovation as a source of growth and jobs
  • sharing information about social innovation in Europe
  • supporting innovative entrepreneurs and mobilising investors and public organisations.

Social innovation is the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress. The process of sport innovation involves social entrepreneurial and social innovative activities that are carried out in the sports context. Sport as an industry is amongst the world’s largest and affects other industries including health, education, tourism and media including social media which have a integral focus on social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Sport has been ingrained into the social fabric of most countries worldwide and provides a unique perspective of innovation.

Sport can be used as tool to promote the integral health, equality, social inclusion and improve employability among European. In order for sport volunteers to act as a player/pioneer of social change, their profiles need to be re-addressed in terms of social leadership and innovation.

However, the knowledge, skills and competencies of sport volunteers are not sufficient to enable a social change through sport in European community. Although sport is one of the most powerful tools for solving social problems, efforts in this direction are very weak. The fact that the European sports volunteers become social leaders and social innovators will increase with the multiplier effect of the efforts in this area.

With regard to this insight, the overall objective of the ESVOL project is to develop "Voluntary-Based Social Leadership and Social Innovation Program in Sport" and to implement and disseminate in partner countries and Europe.

The special aims of ESVOL project are to;

• To promote social leadership and social innovation education for sport volunteers which will lead to new business/idea creation in the sport related social field,

• To facilitate innovative learning practices in social leadership and social innovation in sport by developing gamified platform and open online course (MOOC) and implementing trainings for sport volunteers.

The target group of the project is sport volunteers especially women, young people and talented athletes in participant countries. The final beneficiaries of the project are sport organizations especially voluntary-based organizations in Europe, sport education institutions, people who want to become sport leader and/or social innovator in sport and social stakeholders in Europe.

A skills-based study will be carry out to determine the profile required for the new model of sport volunteer as a social leader and social innovator. In addition, an open online course (MOOC) and gamified platform will be developed that will provide the skills necessary for sport volunteers to become social leaders and/or social innovators.

In ESVOL project, the following intellectual outputs will be developed:

1. Massive online open course (MOOC) on Social Leadership and Social Innovation for sport volunteers
2. Gamified Online Platform on Voluntary-Based Social Leadership and Social Innovation for Sport Volunteers
3. Impact Assessment Report

The project aims to develop "Voluntary-Based Social Leadership and Social Innovation Program in Sport" for sport volunteers in Europe. Several programs / projects have been developed to improve the skills of sport volunteers across Europe. However, there is no specific program / project for the development of social leadership and social skills of sports volunteers in Europe. The program to be developed in the project will be the first program to contribute to Europe's sport volunteers becoming social leaders and/or social innovators. The project is innovative in this respect.

The project will produce this main intellectual outputs:

1. Massive online open course (MOOC) on “Social Leadership and Social Innovation” for sport volunteers. MOOC will be based on a comprehensive methodology and will include training modules, which will be jointly elaborated by the partners and will introduce sport volunteers to the fundamentals of sport-based social leadership and social innovation: identify opportunity, create solutions/idea, develop innovative product/service/process, create a business model, attract social investors, learn how to establish, effectively manage and communicate the activity of a social startup, and how to apply various replication and exit strategies.

2. Innovative gamified online platform, which will facilitate the e-learning process and will enable experiential learning through individual and group assignments, trainer and peer assessment, coaching and feedback from practitioners (social leaders and social innovators) and opportunities for further educational support from sport and social stakeholders, who will be involved.

Training resources for the development of the skills of sport volunteers are limited. The online open course and the gamified learning platform will increase the number of innovative resources for training of sport volunteers. The project is innovative in terms of the content of the educational resources to be produced.

Digital learning tools will be used to present the online open training course to sport volunteers. In this way, sport volunteers from all over Europe will be able to access these educational resources free of charge thanks to web-based platform and mobile platform.

In addition, an interactive web platform will be developed for the development of social leadership and social innovation skills of sports volunteers in the project. This platform will be designed according to the gamified approach, which is an innovative approach. This approach will increase the motivation of sport volunteers and will enable them to become more active participants in training activities. The adoption of the methodology of gamification in the design of the project outputs is another innovative aspect of the project.

The project will especially address the gender gaps in leadership and will promote more gender-balanced career choices through attracting female sport volunteers. Moreover, the content to be developed for the training of sport volunteers will be prepared considering cultural differences. In particular, the social context of each participating country will also be taken into account.
ESVOL project is co-funded by ErasmusPlus Programme of the European Union - Sport Chapter.