FACT SHEET: Fair Play, Fair Childhood: Bringing Children Together Through Sports in Bosnia and Herzegovina (PROJECT CLOSED)

Project Snapshot:

Total Funding: $499,873*
Project Duration: April 2014 – November 2016
Implementing Partners: Association for Sports and Recreation of Youth and the Basketball Association of BiH
*This represents 35 percent of all activity costs; other funds are secured from corporate sponsors.

The Challenge

Eighteen years after the end of the war, the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) remains tense at all levels of society in all local communities, which remain largely segregated by ethnicity. School-age children from the country’s two entities, Republika Srpska and the Federation of BiH, rarely have the opportunity to travel and meet children from municipalities or entities other than their own.

The traditional agents of socialization – family and school – are increasingly supplanted by whatever young people stumble upon on the Internet, while the lack of physical activity will have long-term health effects. Only 13 percent of BiH women and girls take part in organized sports at all. Lack of positive role models facilitates the selection of wrong choices in life. Too many young people on all sides of the ethnic divide in BiH are prone to violence and harbor radical and simplistic nationalistic views of their compatriots of different faiths or cultures.

Our Program

USAID’s activity “Fair Play, Fair Childhood: Bringing BiH Children Together Through Sports” will build sustainable peace in this postwar society by involving children – and thus parents and spectators – from divided communities in sports events throughout the country all year long. Basketball Leagues will take place during the school year, while Youth Sports Games (comprising 10 different sports) will be organized primarily during school holidays. The project will make a special effort to include strong participation by girls. In its final year alone, this project will reach more than 40,000 children aged 6-16 years, including children with disabilities, and 220,000 adults in 60 communities. By contributing to healing the divide between children and adults from different ethnic communities, the project will help build a more cohesive society, free of mistrust and apprehension of others.

Implementation and Results

The project has carefully selected cities and communities from both entities and involving members of ethnic groups residing in the country.

Basketball League of 12 Cities

The basketball league will provide an opportunity – for the first time since the war – for young basketball players to realize their potential by being part of national-level league. Each year, 1,300 children and youth in 12 cities will form 52 teams – 36 teams of boys and 16 teams of girls – to play basketball. Some 220 coaches and team staff, 2,500 parents and 50,000 spectators will be involved.

Youth Sports Games

The Youth Sport Games comprise 10 sports, including street basketball, dodge ball, football, handball, volleyball, and tennis, as well as educational workshops and social networking events for the children and their families. In the final year of the program, 37,500 boys and girls and 900 adults (sports leaders, referees) from 60 communities will be involved in 25 regional tournaments, while some 10,000 parents and coaches will be involved in various educational and social activities. The number of spectators expected to attend the tournaments is 160,000 in 2015 alone.

For more information, contact Ela Challenger, USAID/BiH Deputy Director Program Office, by e-mail: echallenger@usaid.gov.