Azerbaijan was one of the first five countries chosen to be part of International Inspiration. The programme has been in place here since 2007 and has generated some remarkable results. These are particularly pronounced in reaching marginalised young people – particularly girls, displaced children, children living in institutions and children with a disability.
‘I really want to go to university. I want to become a lawyer. Playing volleyball and excelling in it, has given me the strength to believe I will achieve my dream.’Aygul, 17, Azerbaijan
International Inspiration is active in seven districts across Azerbaijan, including two areas with a high concentration of people displaced by the conflict with Armenia. Playgrounds have been renovated, providing safe places for children of all backgrounds and abilities to have fun and practice sport.
International Inspiration has also organised training for teachers to improve the teaching of physical education (PE) in schools, as well as raising the bar for PE standards in 45 higher education institutions across the country.
Reasons to celebrate
- More than 105,000 children and young people in Azerbaijan have taken part in International Inspiration sports camps, festivals and community events.
- New, national legislation, shaped by International Inspiration, will provide more inclusive sport for children and young people, and will create better and safer places to play.
- Through work with the National Paralympic Committee (NPC), more children with a disability have been given the chance to play football and volleyball.
Improving disability sport
International Inspiration has been working with the NPC to facilitate grassroots development, leading to an expansion in specialist coach training. Coaches are now more qualified and skilled, and better informed about the value of sport for those with a disability. Programmes have also been implemented to ensure that disabled children are included in sporting events together with other children, through training young leaders and influencing attitudes.
Changing national laws
International Inspiration has provided the catalyst for reviewing state policy on sport, working with the Ministry of Youth and Sport in Azerbaijan to make legislation more comprehensive and inclusive.
A chance to play
Elvira is passionate about sport. She loves running and recently represented her college. Elvira lives in an area that is home to many people displaced by the conflict with Armenia. Before International Inspiration arrived she had little opportunity to play sport.
'We are not here just to play or do games. We are here to learn about ourselves.'Elvira, age 19.
Twice a year, Elvira now joins a five-day Community Sport Camp. She has the opportunity to play sport with other young people, while learning new life skills. More than 12,000 children across Azerbaijan have attended camps like these since International Inspiration began.
Increasing attendance in schools
International Inspiration has supported an innovative programme of sport and physical activities designed to appeal to young people who may not access sport and recreational activities. Azer Ahmadov is one Azeri teacher who has undertaken International Inspiration training and has rolled it out into his school.
Ahmadov said: 'Thanks to International Inspiration our high school children’s interest in PE lessons has been raised enormously. It has impacted on the attendance of younger children as they are inspired to learn new skills from older school children.'
In addition to encouraging attendance, Ahmadov believes he has also gained new skills and is now confident teaching children with different abilities in the same group for the first time. Relationships have also been built with another local school and young leaders are still volunteering in their school even after graduation. This commitment, and the recruitment of additional volunteers in the form of parents and teachers, is ensuring that the programme is leaving a lasting legacy.