Cross-border sports cooperation is institutionalised between numerous countries. It allows partners to put into practice a strong will to cooperate, and to involve populations in exchanges and interactions. At the cross-border level, sports cooperation is a practical way to bring a cross-border space to life.
At a time when the issues of identity and involvement of civil society in territories are being taken more and more seriously, sport responds to citizens’ need to visualise the cross-border reality. The creation of associations, clubs, festivals and other cross-border sporting events are examples of this phenomenon.
Sport acts as a vector for integration and social cohesion – it facilitates interactions in which people can do without language skills, for example. Furthermore, it often involves a beneficial intergenerational dynamic.
As a vector for territorial development and marketing, sport can also be ‘used’ to enhance the local economy, for example with the production of sports equipment or to support small projects led by young entrepreneurs.
Communication plays a fundamental role in these dimensions (culture and identity; territorial marketing).
The implementation of cooperation projects in sport thus responds to an existing need in cross-border territories, formulated by inhabitants as well as public authorities and quasi-public entities.
Cooperation activities within the field of sport are numerous and varied. They can include the organisation of joint sporting events or gatherings, as well as the organisation of school exchanges and cooperation between clubs and associations on either side of a border.
Sports cooperation is based first of all on working in networks between different partners situated on either side of the border. Most partners meet frequently in an informal context within cross-border working groups, or conduct frequent exchanges of information. In other words, sports cooperation is not yet a concern of dedicated cross-border structures or formal working groups within local authorities, but is principally founded on informal networks and can in certain cases be covered by conventions between several local authorities.
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