Meter Matters: co-financing schemes in sport for people with intellectual disabilities

The implementation of the Erasmus+ funded European project Meter Matters has set its next stage for the participants of the partnership. In order to gather indicators for the development of possible co-financing schemes, a focus group interview was conducted, this time with the participation of sports federation leaders.

The event welcomed Lajos Lengyel, President of the Hungarian Special Olympics Association, who in his opening speech underlined the importance of cooperation between the association and sports clubs and federations, where never the 'pity', but the cooperation, common interests and learning from each other help future developments.

Prior to the focus group interview, Dr. Szilvia Perényi, Associate Professor at the Department of Sport Management at HUSS, presented the project Meter Matters, led by the University of Ljubljana, and its professional content to the participants. The aim of the research is to develop the concept of unified sport and co-financing. After a short methodological presentation, the discussion started, and the participants reported on the inclusive efforts implemented so far in their sports, presented challenges and possible solutions.

The custom-designed focus group survey was attended by representatives of several major sports federations and associations, such as Olympic champion Krisztián Berki, the sport director of the Hungarian Gymnastics Federation, Péter Bodnár, the secretary general of the Hungarian Basketball Federation, András Pitz, the deputy director of operations of the Hungarian Handball Federation, Zsófia Gubacsi, the head of the Zsófi Gubacsi Tennis Club, Dr. György Jády, Sports Coordinator of the Hungarian Special Olympics and Supporters' Coordinator of the Hungarian Football Association, Gergely Máté-Schwarcz, Sports Director of the Hungarian Special Olympics, and József Juhász, Judo Section Leader, Member of the Disability Committee of the Hungarian Judo Federation.

The project partners were represented by Orsolya Kárpáti, International Director of the Hungarian Special Olympics Association, Dr. Judit Farkas, Research Fellow of HUSS, and Levente Lajtos, student at the university.

During the data collection, the funding opportunities and awareness of sports for people with intellectual disabilities and learning difficulties were discussed among different stakeholders, and the aim was to identify distribution indicators in case of co-financing schemes, said Dr. Szilvia Perényi, Head of Research.

Péter Bodnár, Secretary General of Hungarian Basketball Federation, stressed that although it is not the task of the federations to support sports for people with disabilities, they would be happy to allocate funds from their own resources within the framework of social responsibility, but they would need to introduce the principle of free redistribution. Sport for people with intellectual disabilities has already been supported from its own budget, but to make progress it is necessary to expand the possibilities of the funding system.

András Pitz, Deputy Director of Operations of the Hungarian Handball Federation, said that the federation has been running a 6-team league system for people with intellectual disabilities and learning difficulties for years, which is an important message for them in the context of running a responsible civil sports organisation.

Participants agreed that in inclusive sport, success is not measured in medals, but rather in numbers of participants and regularity. The next task for the international partnership of the project is to systematise funding and distribution indicators and prepare discussion papers.

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