2.1. Introduction and self-assessment

“The reality today is that we are all interdependent and have to co-exist on this small planet. Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals or nations, is through dialogue.”  Dalai Lama

The world today is globalised more than ever. It is not possible to think and live only within the framework of nation states. As the last chapter demonstrates, cross-border interdependence is the reality of modern society.

Sport, as an important pillar of society, is not excluded from the globalisation process, and both elite and grassroots sports are affected by it. Think of a Champions League match with all 22 players drawn from different countries or simply reflect on a normal working day for grassroots sports coaches – training with multinational groups at their sports club.

But even if internationality is the reality of today, handling it can still be challenging.  Differences in cultures and traditions can cause misunderstandings and sometimes even conflict. So it is important to find a way to use interculturalism, to enjoy the advantages it offers and to learn how interaction between different cultures can be beneficial.

This section of the manual will provide you with information on the issues around interculturalism, so you can become more sensitive to them. It will also help you to reflect on your own level of openness towards new cultures.  It will equip those of you working in the sports sphere with practical exercises to help in the delivery of your daily work with multinational groups, offering tools to handle diversity within sports clubs and settings.

To better understand what will be discussed in this chapter consider the following questions:

  •  What do you think “intercultural dialogue” is about?
  • What do you know about intercultural communication?
  • How open are you to communication with people from other cultures? How often do you do this? Does it mean fun or stress for you?
  • Are you still living in your place of birth? If not, do you feel comfortable in your new cultural surroundings? What do you miss most of all? What helps you to feel comfortable?
  • If you think of people in your surroundings (family, neighbours, colleagues, sports club members), who were born in another city/country? Which languages are spoken by them? What are they primarily to you: foreigners; people with other cultural backgrounds; neighbours; colleagues; or friends?
  • If you think of yourself, how do you feel if you are somewhere completely new (travelling abroad, at a new job, at a party, in a sport club)? Is it easy for you to communicate? What do you need for smooth communication? How do you want other people to treat you in these situations?
  • Do you have a particular picture in your mind when you hear that someone comes from Germany, Sweden, Spain, Russia, Afghanistan, Syria or any other country even if you have never met this person before? Does this picture influence your future communication with him or her? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They are considered the first step of self-reflection and help you to dive into the topic of the chapter.

Disclaimer: In the case there are any concerns or problems such as conflict or health issues etc., coaches are advised to look for professional support.

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