to establish regular cross-border cooperation between institutions and young generations in order to reinforce sporting links between water polo clubs from Montenegro and Croatia;
to encourage the moral and physical development of children and youth through sport; and
to boost community development and improve neighbourly relations in the cross-border area.
The project activities included:
94 water polo matches for children and youth under the tournament “Olympic Hopes” in Dubrovnik, Herceg Novi, Budva and Kotor;
organising of a kick-off conference for signing a Memorandum of Cooperation;
procurement of sports equipment for water polo clubs participating in the project;
production and dissemination of visibility and publicity items;
organising a Youth Water Polo Cross Border Campus for 125 children and 10 coaches;
organising various seminars for club coaches and managers; and
numerous coordination meetings between project partners.
The main results of the “Olympic Hopes” project can be summarised as follows:
improved cooperation between institutions and clubs devoted to water polo;
increased awareness among youth of the benefits of cross-border cooperation, European Union and human development through sport;
improved technical and administrative capacities of employees (coaches and managers) in water polo clubs;
procured technical equipment necessary for every day work in local water polo clubs.
Moreover, friends and families of the participants in the “Olympic Hopes” events were also personally involved and a large proportion of the inhabitants of the four participating towns became well aware of the intensive cooperation achieved by the project.
Aspects of good practice
The project has been noted for exhibiting the full range of aspects of good practice in cross-border cooperation.
It is an aspiration of participants in the project that the tournament “Olympic Hopes” should become a tradition and should be included in the budgets of the water polo clubs and local governments, which should ensure that its outcomes echo in the future, reminding the communities that good neighbourly relations are the basis of quality life and prosperity in the cross-border areas.
Already other water polo clubs that were not initially included in the project activities have shown interest in being involved in project activities – WC Bijela, WC Cavtat and WC Mornar from Split. Moreover, two water polo federations have actively participated in the project – Swimming and Water Polo Federation of Montenegro and the Water Polo Federation of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County – highlighting its broader appeal.
The exceptional level of cooperation between cross-border partners should also serve as an example for all organisations at local level that it is possible to widen one’s horizon and ensure some tangible benefits for the community by doing it. In this particular case, this cooperation is expected to have multiplier effects, including cooperation in new fields.
Due to its nature – bringing together children and youth in a healthy activity, water polo – the project brings about a richness of added values. Children and youth are encouraged off the streets and into sport gaining life skills and positive values that could prevent and address youth delinquency and crime. Furthermore, by attracting them into project activities in an inspiring and non-aggressive way, interaction of individuals from different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds through sport is emphasised, helping to build social inclusion and community spirit.
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