Denis Ficko
Inclusion of Roma People Through Sports

In Slovenia, we have a significant number of Roma people. We want to involve them in sports activities and in this way include them into society, as well as promote a healthy lifestyle among them.

What sport programs and exercises do you perform for Roma people in Prekmurje?

First, I would like to introduce myself, my name is Denis Ficko, and I am a professor of physical education and sports education in primary school and primary school with customized programs. In my work, I also meet with Roma population. In addition to compulsory physical education classes in primary school, Roma students have the opportunity to participate in various elective subjects in the field of sports, outdoor schools with an emphasis on sports activities, the Golden Sun program, Krpan, learn to swim and especially extended school competitions.

These activities can certainly help Roma children to form positive behavioural patterns associated with sports activity. It is easier for them to get involved in sports programs, which are either recreational or competitive, during the growing up phase, as well as later.

What is the approach of Roma people to exercising?

Roma students respond differently to exercise. For some, physical activity is closer, and some need extra encouragement to activate themselves.

How do you solve the arising conflicts between/involving Roma people? 

Conflict situations can occur during exercise, especially during contact sports. I resolve conflict situations through conversation, I definitely try to calm down the individuals involved and through the conversation find the core of the problem, find out why the problem occurred, define the role of the individual in this matter and of course constructively conclude, bring the matter to an end.

How do you solve the training of Roma if the majority population refuses to accept Roma people into training groups?

Given that primary education is compulsory, these situations do not occur. It is certainly important that in educational work, we place emphasis on equality and equal accessibility. We are different, which needs to be taken into account. And certain negative thinking, such as exclusion and stigmatization, needs to be avoided. Therefore, it seems to me that the educational environment is an extraordinary opportunity to create the right conditions for later participation, especially in sports.

What role does the local community play in holding the trainings for Roma living in this community?

I think the local community has a big impact. It is the local community that promotes movement and a healthy lifestyle for its members.

What pedagogical and professional matters does it take for the exercise with the Roma people to be successful and useful?

The person performing the sports process must be properly educated, on the one hand there is a professional side, good knowledge of the sport, the basics of sports coaching, how much we talk about general sports training of different age groups, this means proper management of the training process. This is how important the pedagogical side is. An individual who works with children and adolescents must first and foremost be a good educator. Practitioners need to be enthusiastic about sports training and try to cultivate in them positive behavioural patterns related to sports.

What matters are useful to Roma people and understand the meaning of exercise and its importance for their integration into society and their health?

It is definitely important that there are different educations in the field of sports and also different promotional activities related to sports training. Especially activities that promote sports for all, walking, running, cycling, swimming.

What is the overall benefit of regular exercising/training with Roma people to the wider society?

Regular and professionally guided sports exercise improves the general health of the population and contributes to the better functioning of the individual. So I think we are on the right track with sport.

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