The final event of the GeoLAB Project took place at the beginning of December in Paredes, the Portuguese partner of the project.

GeoLAB is a project conceived by FIDAL, the Italian Federation of Athletics, co-financed by the European Commission, aimed at strengthening the European values of sport and preventing radicalisation especially among young people. It consisted of two main parts: the GeoLAB Academy, an online training course to achieve social and sport competences to become Street Coaches, and the RAREs – Race Against Racism Events, organized by all the partners to put into practice this new professionalism, particularly in the urban context.

The four days in the city of Paredes have been a real success for all partners – Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia – and the organizers, giving the opportunity of sharing the results of 24 months of cooperation and projecting new activities in the coming future.

On the first day, the whole delegation of GeoLAB has been welcomed at the Municipality by the 1stVice-President of Paredes, Elias Barros, and the Councillor for Youth, Paulo Silva, who highlighted the relevance of being part of such a Project and to build up together synergies across Europe. From Italy, Marco Pietrogiacomi, FIDAL Head of Educational and Territorial Policies and EU Projects Department, sent a message of satisfaction and encouragement to look positively to the experience we made and to the role EU Street Coaches could play in the future: “We reached the end of this journey which gave us, as Federation, the opportunity of demonstrating how much sport means inclusion and solidarity. I want to thank the Municipality of Paredes for hosting this final event and all the partners for joining this experience.”

And it was magical that, right in that moment, outside the Town Hall, in the José Guilherme Park, the Christmas lights were switched on the notes of a gospel choir!

On Friday, the GeoLAB Final Conference took place, at the presence of local students coming from a neighbourhood of Paredes. Alexandre Almeida, the President of the city, honoured us with his presence bringing his institutional greetings to the audience.

Following the opening session, Marlene Mendes Silva, responsible for educational projects, introduced several speakers: Alcídio Jesus, from the IPDJ-Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, on 2030 Agenda and perspectives for the sport sector in the EU; Leonel Ferreira and Gonçalo Ferreira, on specific actions Paredes is pursuing to include citizens in sport at all level of ability and at all ages; Glória Salgado, about the coordination of the “Paredes Integra” programme; João Costa, underlining the importance of environmental and sustainability factors in projects and public policies.

During the second part of the seminar, Rossella Moia and Chiara Spinato, the project managers of GeoLAB, presented results and outcomes, replication and scalability elements of the Project, expressing full satisfaction and gratitude to the partners and the Street Coaches for being part of the journey. After that, the voice of the partners: Gorazd Skrt, from Slovenia, intervened to underline opportunities sport could provide for youth in the tourism sector; Enrica Loda, from Italy, explained how to make a sport event carbon neutral; Sammy Marcantognini, the main teacher of the Academy, reported his experience in teaching street coaching. And, last but not least, it was the turn of the Street Coaches with Ana, Eftika, Francesco, Matej, Sandra who shared their views on GeoLAB.

Paulo Eusebio, from the Sport Sector of the Municipality of Paredes, closed the conference with these words: “Paredes welcomed the GeoLAB project and the results, honestly, were surprisingly positive for such a small city and a small team… I hope this could be just the first step on a long journey!”

In the afternoon a visit to the nearby city of Porto was planned, thanks to the guide of Marilia Ferreira, and the last details for the following day were discussed during the francesinha tasting dinner.

On Saturday, the GeoLAB Project members actively supported and participated to the Solidarity March “Free to Be Healthy” organized by the Municipality, which counted the participation of over 600 citizens.

The Delegation spent the last part of the day visiting the city and getting involved in the “golf for all” project at the Aqueduct Golf Course.

And, finally, a Porto toast to wish new partnerships and fruitful projects for the future!