Introducing

METER MATTERS IN SPORTS

An estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability.

This represents 16% of the world’s population,

or 1 in 6 of us.

Let's open equal opportunities!

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The Meter Matters project will explore the field of social inclusion in and through sports with the aim of a) proposing appropriate criteria for co-funding sports programs involving people with intellectual impairment and other more vulnerable people (due to various circumstances), primarily in mainstream sports organizations and b) proposing a model for co-funding social inclusion in and through sports at the national level.

Based on some research in the field of social inclusion in sports and the successful Erasmus project Promoting Social Inclusion of Persons with Mental Disabilities through Sport, some important facts are already known:

(1) which are the groups of people involved in various inclusive sports programs (people with diverse abilities, people with mental health challenges, former elite athletes, senior athletes – veterans, etc.),

(2) what types of inclusive sports programs exist (rehabilitation, recreational, competitive) and

(3) the different implementation areas of inclusive sports programs (sports, social clubs, health centres, business environments, etc.).

Equal involvement of all people in sports activities is, in terms of national and international guidelines, enshrined in some conventions and strategies in the field of sports, as well as human rights, social security, physical and mental health, architecture, environment and public administration (White Paper on Sport, United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 etc.).

In practice, we already recognize the providers of inclusive sports programs. We also find national legislation that supports inclusive participation. In 2018 an interesting research has been conducted and published in EU Publications titled Mapping on access to sport for people with disabilities[1]  where we find much useful information for our project among which we can read: … “the complex range of sources and varying governance and management structures across the member states, have made it difficult within the limits of this small-scale research to identify overall funding levels dedicated to sport participation for people with disabilities. The country reviews however suggest that across the EU there is a strong variation in levels of funding allocated to sport participation programs.”

[1] European Commission, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, Mapping on access to sport for people with disabilities : a report to the European Commission, Publications Office, 2018, https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2766/061635

We note that there is a gap between the practice and EU guidelines in terms of sustainable support for socially inclusive sports programs in the form of co-funding by state and local (municipal) resources. We observe considerable opacity in the regulation of the field. Given that there are both, (1) relevant programs and (2) inclusive legislation and policies, we believe that the reason for the missing article is reflected in the undeveloped criteria for measuring social inclusion in sports.

Major sports programs are usually co-funded based on crowds (number of involved athletes) and performance (sports score). In the field of social inclusion in sports, the criteria cannot be the same, as it is a smaller population.

An estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability. This represents 16% of the world’s population, or 1 in 6 of us.

The goals of inclusion in sports are not focused on competitive results, but on opening equal opportunities for all, regardless of their psychophysical abilities.

In the Meter Matters program, we will search for criteria for co-funding social inclusion in sports through focus groups (1) with coaches of inclusive sports programs in regular sports clubs and (2) with athletes and their parents or guardians. We will also include interviews with 2 or 3 experts in the field of social inclusion in sports. And finally, we will work with an expert in the field of mathematics and statistics to determine the most appropriate, realistic and, above all, measurable parameters.

All our action steps mean an upgrade or continuation of the here mentioned projects. Based on the proposals for measuring social inclusion in sports, we will also make a model for co-funding socially inclusive sports programs at the national level.

PARTNER INSTITUTIONS

ACTIVITIES

KICK OFF MEETING IN LJUBLJANA

METTER MATTERS PROJECT START IN LJUBLJANA
The Kick-Off Meeting for Erasmus+ project Metter Matters happened on June, 1st 2022 in Ljubljana, hosted by Faculty of Sport, University of Ljubljana, the coordinator of the project. Partners from Slovenia and Portugal were introduced to the project, being active till the end of May 2024. The University of Coimbra, Portugal, APPDA Coimbra – Associacao Portuguesa para as Perturbacoed do Desenvolvimento u Autismo de Coimbra and Special Olympics Slovenia overviewed the project content and structure together with the coordinator as partners from Hungary – University of Physical Education and Special Olympics Hungary were already introduced in the beginning of June.
The Meter Matters project will explore the field of inclusion in sport with the aim of a) proposing appropriate criteria for co-financing sports programs involving people with intellectual impairment in mainstream sports organizations and b) proposing a model for co-financing inclusion in sport at the national level.
Based on some research in the field of inclusion in sport and the successful Erasmus + project “Promoting Social Inclusion of Persons with Mental Disabilities through Sport”, some important facts are already known as: 

(1) which are the groups of people involved in various inclusive sports programs (people with diverse abilities, people with mental health challenges, former elite athletes, senior athletes – veterans, etc.),
(2) what types of inclusive sports programs exist (rehabilitation, recreational, competitive) and
(3) the different implementation areas of inclusive sports programs (sports, social clubs, health centers, business environments, etc.).

Equal involvement of all people in sports activities is, in terms of national and international guidelines, enshrined in some conventions and strategies in the field of sports, as well as human rights, social security, physical and mental health, architecture, environment and public administration (White Paper on Sport, United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 etc.).
In practice, we already recognize the providers of inclusive sports programs. We also find national legislation that supports inclusive participation. In 2018 an interesting research has been conducted published in EU Publications with a title Mapping on access to sport for people with disabilities where we find many useful information for our project among which we can read: … “the complex range of sources and varying governance and management structures across the member states, have made it difficult within the limits of this small-scale research to identify overall funding levels dedicated to sport participation for people with disabilities. The country reviews however suggest that across the EU there is a strong variation in levels of funding allocated to sport participation programs.”
We note that there is a gap between the practice and EU guidelines in terms of sustainable support for inclusive sports programs in the form of co-financing by state and local (municipal) resources. We observe considerable opacity in the regulation of the field. Given that there are both, (1) relevant programs and (2) inclusive legislation and policies, we believe that the reason for the missing article is reflected in the undeveloped criteria for measuring inclusion in sport.
Major sports programs are usually co-financed based on crowds (number of involved athletes) and performance (sports score). In the field of inclusion in sports, the criteria cannot be the same, as it is basically a smaller population. There are currently more than 2 billion disabled people in the world, that is 37.5% of the world’s population. The goals of inclusion in sport are not focused on competitive results, but on opening equal opportunities for all, regardless of their psychophysical abilities.
In the Meter Matters program, we will search for criteria for co-financing inclusion in sports through focus groups (1) with coaches of inclusive sports programs in regular sports clubs and (2) with athletes and their parents or guardians. We will also include interviews of 1 or 2 experts in the field of inclusion in sport. And finally, we will work with an expert in the field of mathematics and statistics to determine the most appropriate, realistic and, above all, measurable parameters.
All our action steps mean an upgrade or continuation of the here mentioned projects. Based on the proposals for measuring inclusion in sports, we will also make a model for co-financing inclusive sports programs at the national level.
The next meeting will be in January 2023 in Portugal.

ZOOM MEETINGS

There have been additional Zoom meetings:

  1. May 22, 2023;
  2. September 22, 2023;
  3. October 20, 2023;
  4. October 25, 2023;
  5. November 29, 2023;
  6. February 12, 2024;
  7. March 11, 2024,
  8. April 18, 2024,
  9. May 15, 2024. 

SECOND MEETING IN COIMBRA

Second meeting of Meter Matters project took place in Coimbra, Portugal, from the from the 31st of January until 2nd of February 2023. All partners have attended the meeting (12 participants).

The main topics were:

Review article and the definition of social inclusion in sports,

Preparation for interviews and Preparation for workshops/focus groups.

1. Review article and the definition of social inclusion in sports

Together, we have worked on some names in the process of creating the definition and agreed on an abbreviated publication. The shortened version of an article will be published in the journal Kinesiologica Slovenica in April 2023.

2. Preparation for interviews and implementation plan

Each country conducts 2-3 interviews with national experts in inclusion and sports politics. Each country is responsible for analysing content based on developed questions.  

3. Preparation for workshops/focus groups and implementation plan

We have upgraded the number of focus groups from planned 2 to 3 groups: (1) club managers/directors, (2) coaches, social workers, psychologists, other technicians and parents /guardians and (3) athletes with intellectual disabilities and development disorders. Number of estimated participants is 60 (in all 3 countries).

4. Dissemination

We have set a project webpage where all the results will be presented. The FB profile is also planned.  

Next planed meeting will be in Budapest from the 5th-6th of June 2023.

THIRD MEETING IN BUDAPEST

The third meeting of the Erasmus+ Meter Matters project took place in Budapest, Hungary from June 5 to 6, 2023.

The meeting was attended by all partners, 10 participants from Hungary, Portugal and Slovenia. The work was focused on the processing of data obtained in interviews with decision-makers and in focus groups with athletes, coaches, social workers, parents, volunteers, club leaders and leaders of inclusive sports programs. The next project meeting will be held in Ljubljana in January 2024.

Until then, the publication of two articles and a booklet with proposals for relevant criteria for co-financing programs of social inclusion in sport and a model at the national level, which can be adapted to the situation in EU countries, will be prepared.

 

FOURTH MEETING IN PLANICA

Fourth meeting of Meter Matters project took place in Planica, Slovenia, from the 8th until 12th of January 2024. There have been 11 participants, 7 in person and 4 online. The main topics were: Proposing a model for funding social inclusion in sport at the national level, making a booklet, discussion about the Original article on criteria, preparation of National and final on line Round Tables.

The Criteria for Proposing a model for funding social inclusion in sport at the national level are: (1) SUSTAINABILITY, (2) PERFORMANCE, (3) SOCIABILITY (Attitude), (4) ATTITUDE TOWARDS INCLUSION, (5) COMPETENCES, (6) GOOD GOVERNENCE

The booklet of the project will have 20 pages in total. All the content will be translated into all four languages.
Partners agreed on INDEX:
1) About the project
2) Research work with definition
3) Criteria proposal
4) Proposed funding model of inclusion in sport on the national level
5) About the partners:

Original article on criteria will have a tittle: Listening to stakeholders’ voices about funding social inclusion in sport (for people with disabilities)
The round tables will be performed from 8th to 12th of April 2024 and the EU final ONLINE RT is planned in April 2024 (22nd of April).

Fourth meeting in PLANICA

ROUND TABELS

National Round table in Slovenia

On Friday, April 12th, a national roundtable discussion was held in Ljubljana as part of the “Meter Matters” project.
Dr. Mojca Doupona, the project coordinator, presented the project’s progress, emphasizing that six partners, including two from Portugal and Hungary, had developed criteria for co-financing inclusion in sports at the national and local levels within the framework of the Erasmus+ project.
Project leader Mojca Doupona highlighted at the outset that the goal of this European project, in line with national guidelines, is to improve the position of all social groups and create equal opportunities in sports. A prerequisite for co-financing is measurable criteria for funding programs and a model at the national level aimed at including all vulnerable groups.
In a study involving the faculties of sports in Ljubljana and Budapest, the University of Coimbra in Portugal, as well as Special Olympics Slovenia and Hungary and APPDA Portugal, basic criteria with various contents were highlighted: sustainability, project implementation, networking, attitude towards social inclusion, knowledge, and good governance.
All these criteria, in the next phase leading to stable co-financing, require additional content, especially testing the model in practice. The need for inclusion and co-financing was also supported by project coordinator Doupona, Sports Directorate Director Dejan Plastovski, EU Project Office Manager at the Slovenian Olympic Committee Polona Samec, and Boro Štrumbelj from the Faculty of Sports, who has been involved with the Slovenian Paralympic Committee for over two decades.
The quartet mentioned also held decisive positions in ministries. The discussion itself showed that work on the inclusion of vulnerable groups is still in its infancy. “There are no unimportant issues in sports, and we must address topics that are not exclusively related to achieving success or mass participation. These programs are few, and we need to consider how to stimulate these matters,” emphasized Plastovski, providing a broad view of the sports model in the country.
Samec cautioned about the country’s strict rules, emphasizing the need to ensure that the criteria do not become obstacles for associations, federations, and clubs when formulated. At the moment, the main problem lies in the poor organization of disability sports, although there are bright exceptions.
“We had two successful pilot projects that ended when the sponsors withdrew,” Štrumbelj presented a practical example and added that it was an important lesson. “We learned that we need to address the issue of getting disabled individuals to train in associations. Projects have shown that there is broad social support. However, the problem lies in how to recruit athletes and people to lead projects.”
But it’s not just about projects; it’s about a whole range of obstacles. Opportunities vary greatly in different parts of the country, problems arise regarding empowering volunteers and parents, educating professionals, infrastructure… The magnitude of the problems faced by disability organizations is evident, as shown by the news from Maribor, where municipal funds for such projects remained partially unused.
“Disability organizations will need to do their part and get organized. We need inclusion, integration, and special programs. If we don’t reach people with special needs, we’ll stay where we are. Slovenia stands out in the world of sports with its achievements, but we lag far behind in disability sports,” Štrumbelj concluded. As one possible solution, he sees the five-year project “Active, Inclusive” by the Slovenian Paralympic Committee, which will start soon, creating opportunities for regular training and the development of new programs.

National Round table in Portugal

The “Meter Matters” Project Round Table provided a comprehensive discussion on the most crucial criteria for financing inclusive sports clubs, showcasing a variety of perspectives:
Carlota Cunha emphasized the tendency towards segregated practices within clubs and stressed the need for measurable and objective criteria, highlighting sustainability as a fundamental aspect.
Joaquim Viegas’s contribution highlighted the challenging yet rewarding nature of working in the field of sports and physical education, particularly within the realm of disability inclusion. He underscored the benevolent interest and the joy derived from making a positive impact on others.
Dina Pereira presented a range of key factors for inclusion, including coach and staff training, physical accessibility, program diversity, facilities, awareness campaigns, partnerships, and ongoing evaluation and monitoring.
Alcindo Quaresma raised concerns about the scarcity of funding for competitions, noting the lack of clear criteria and sensitivity in subsidy allocation. He emphasized the need for greater fairness in distributing resources.
The discussion also delved into broader issues such as the overall landscape of sports and education, the role of associations, and the financial support provided by municipalities, which often offer facilities and transportation assistance. Key needs identified included increased government involvement, better communication through public channels, and revisions to sports legislation.
Ideal funding criteria proposed included significant public support for federations, clubs, and participants with disabilities, clear and transparent information dissemination, mapping of inclusive sport clubs’ efforts, and increased funding for municipalities. It was also suggested that awards ceremonies could be used to publicly recognize inclusive institutions and practices and athletes.

Everyone acknowledged that sports are not a priority for politicians in Portugal, and even less relevance is given to sport for people with disabilities, lacking information on how many people with disabilities participate in sports clubs and in schools and this data is crucial in order to understand and facilitate sport inclusion.
Barriers to inclusion, such as accessibility and transportation, along with attitudinal challenges and the costs associated with offering inclusive sports programs, were highlighted.
Regarding to the criteria weighting, speakers expressed their opinions to which should be given more value in clubs, such as transportation needs, variety of inclusive sports offerings within the club, and the specificity of each sport that should be evaluated in the criteria because some sports may require more adapted equipment and additional coaches.
Preference should be given to measurable criteria (as they are objective and not as numerous): reliable data such as athlete and event surveys, inclusive actions taken, club mapping; outcome attainment: parallel/complementary benefits, costs to public health/families – mental health impact; the progress made toward sustainability should be evaluated over time and based on the club’s track record of good practices; the level of intentionality in the club’s inclusion efforts (whether it genuinely aims to be inclusive and in what manner); the impact the club has on its beneficiaries; the ratio of investment to results.

Regarding the comments and questions from the public, we highlight the presence and the intervention from the President of FPDD (Portuguese Federation for Disability Sports) stressing out the relevance of policies – laws and decision-makers. Measurable criteria are essential for the sport in general, and namely for inclusive settings.
Overall, invited speakers stressed the importance of measurable and transparent criteria, continuity of projects/ sustainability, several stakeholder’s involvement, coaches training, and investments with positive returns in terms of community impact and athlete development. They emphasized the need to consider practical effects when weighing criteria and suggested prioritizing those that can be objectively measured, such as reliable data collection, impact assessment, and sustainability evaluations.

National Round table in Hungary

Date: 17th April, 2024 10.00-12.30
Venue: Hungarian University of Sport Science, Budapest

Participants: 54

Agenda
General moderator: Viktoria Szoke, editor/emcee, M4 Hungarian Sports Television

Welcome speeches
1. Gabor Schmidt, Deputy State Secretary for Sports Administration and Development
2. Prof. Dr. Tamas Sterbenz, Rector, Hungarian University of Sport Science
3. Lajos Lengyel, President of Special Olympics Hungary

Project presentations
1. Dr. Szilvia Perenyi, Associate professor, Hungarian University of Sport Science
2. Orsolya Karpati, International Director of Special Olympics Hungary

Due to the large number of guest speakers, we organized two round table discussions.
1. First round Table – Best practises
Guest speakers:
• Zsofia Gubacsi, Owner of the Gubacsi Zsofi Tennis Club
• Peter Bodnar, General Secretary, Hungarian Basketball Federation
• Andras Pitz, Deputy Director of Operations, Hungarian Handball Federation
• Krisztian Berki, Olympic champion gymnast, Sports Director, Hungarian Gymnastics Federation
Moderator: Viktoria Szoke
The guest speakers presented the policy and practises they follow within their organizations in order to create and/or to strengthen inclusion. These include the possibility of using the sport facilities, providing competition officials for free, providing uniforms and equipment, and reimburse travel expenses. In some cases, clubs/federations provide common training opportunities for both people with and without disabilities.
From the presentations, we can draw the conclusion that each organization has its own developed policy and practice of supporting sports for people with disabilities. In many cases these practices are similar, but in other cases they show great differences. In other words, there is not a general and comprehensive protocol, including financing, in the case.

2. Second Round Table – Governance control system
Guest speakers:
• Gabor Schmidt, Deputy State Secretary for Sports Administration and Development
• Prof. Dr. Tamas Sterbenz, Rector, Hungarian University of Sport Science
• Istvan Gergely, Olympic Champion water-polo player, Executive Chairman of “Budapesti Honvéd” Sports Club
• Lajos Lengyel, president of Special Olympics Hungary

Moderator: Dr. Szilvia Perenyi

Speakers agreed on that there is no specific funding model for sports for people with disabilities in general. The current funding strategy is mainly focused on elite sports, including Paralympic. They do not see any difference in financing of sports regard to the different disabilities. However, funding the different sport level (recreational, sports for all, elite) is significantly different. They all emphasized the importance of CSR even in mainstream sports clubs as a kind of social duty. They also agreed that it is necessary to test in practice the criteria for co-financing, since the different mainstream sports clubs and organizations have different opportunities and needs.

Summary of the Meter Matters Online Round Table

The Erasmus+ Meter Matters project successfully hosted an international online round table on “The Future of Social Inclusion in Sports,” which drew significant global interest. The event saw registration from 160 individuals representing a diverse array of countries including Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, North Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Spain. Ultimately, 85 participants actively engaged in the session.

The round table focused on discussing innovative criteria for funding programs that facilitate social inclusion in sports. Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, highlighting a strong reception of the proposed criteria and a keen interest in their application and further development.

This enthusiastic participation underscores the global relevance of the topic and the shared commitment to enhancing inclusivity in sports. The insights and suggestions contributed by attendees from various countries will be invaluable as we continue to refine and advance our approaches to funding inclusive sports programs.

We are encouraged by the active discussions and the palpable interest in continuing this dialogue, which will undoubtedly contribute to the ongoing efforts to promote social inclusion through sports globally.

OUTPUTS

CLICK ON PICTURES AND READ

ENG

Proposal of Criteria & Model for Co-Funding Inclusion in Sport 

HUN

Javaslat a sportban megvalósítandó társadalmi inklúzió társfinanszírozásának kritériumaira és modelljére

SLO

Predlog meril in modela sofinanciranja socialnega vključevanja v športu

POR

Proposta de Critérios & Modelo de Cofinanciamento da Inclusão no Desporto

BOOKLET

ENG

BOOKLET

SLO

BOOKLET

HUN

BOOKLET 

POR

BOOKLET

People with disabilities
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