A UCC Sport initiative focusing on sport post-lockdown has attracted worldwide interest and support, with UNESCO, the World Health Organisation and the International Olympic Committee among its supporters.
Morgan Buckley, head of UCC Sport, said on Monday that the Global Design Challenge for Sport and Physical Activity has “grown legs internationally” since staff in the Cork university came up with the idea.
“A few of us in UCC got together,” said Buckley, “including Dr Fiona Chambers, Dean of Education and former Head of the School of Sport, and we felt it was clear as the pandemic progressed, that new ways of thinking about sport would be needed.
The ground rules for sport have changed totally - what’s the role of a governing body now? How will sports generate revenue in the future? Is the broadcasting-revenue model gone? What are the implications for employment?
“We looked at other models, where groups were coming together globally to produce new ideas, and that’s where the Global Design Challenge for Sport and Physical Activity came from.”
Hence the basic question the Challenge poses: “How might we sustainably redesign sport and physical activity for children and families, the young and the not-so-young, for participants, spectators, fans and community groups, so that it is inclusive, accessible, attainable – and fun! – during the pandemic and afterward?”
The UCC group began working with Sport Ireland, Cork Local Sports Partnership, the Irish National Centre for Outdoor Education and Training, and the Federation of Irish Sport, in cooperation with the International Sport and Culture Association.
“We all contacted our colleagues overseas and the IOC has supported it, we’ve got a media agency with 400 outlets across Africa on board to support it, Sport For Life in Canada, and two UNESCO agencies - one handling sport for inclusion, and the other for physical activity - have also come on board.”
That support has gone beyond lip service, added Buckley: “Take Sport for Life in Canada, which works with the Canadian government and other agencies in that country - we had a great conversation with them last week and they signed up.
“They’re promoting it within their own network and they’ll get their own staff to put teams in place across Canada.
“Having UNESCO on board is great, we have strong interest from groups which work with the World Health Organisation and the IOC will promote the contest as well.”
The idea behind the project is that teams, groups, and organisations with a vision for sport in the post-lockdown submit their ideas for consideration.
“Teams will register on a platform for the weekend coming - the platform’s sponsored by the hosting company, Devpost - and over the weekend they’ll be invited brainstorm out different ideas. We have an international panel which will look at the projects - it’ll sift through the applications and match the ideas to organisations in the network.
“They’ll get incubation support and we’re also looking to source sports innovation funding: Sport Ireland has a sports innovation fund and there are similar international funds we’ll be looking to for support to incubate the ideas - the intellectual property involved remains with the group which came up with the idea.”
The Challenge is free - for more information see www.sportireland.ie/participation/design-challenge-2020