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Wat met sport kan, kan met cultuur ook



Culture connects, but that does not happen automatically. How do you contribute to cohesion in a neighborhood with culture? For example, how do you reach young people? We talked to Sinan Kelebek, director of SK Coaching. He coaches and guides young people in various neighborhoods, where he comes into contact with young people in an accessible way through sports. What can the cultural sector learn from this?

‘Everyone you meet in life can be of significance for your future.’

We met for the interview with Sinan in Peldersveld in a gymnasium of De Spiegel primary school. Sinan is the host for young people from the neighborhood who come to play sports here. This is Sinan’s territory: ‘Upon entering, the young people are expected to greet me seriously with a hand or a box. By greeting seriously I mean that the young people look at me.’ It is understandable that they give Sinan a hand or a box, but the fact that they have to give me, a stranger, a box or a hand says something about Sinan’s philosophy: Everyone you meet in life can be of significance for your future.

Sinan coaches and guides young people in various neighborhoods, using sports as a means to easily get in touch with these groups. The supervision of the sports activities is in the hands of young people in the neighborhood who are trained for this. They are used as role models for the growing youth in the neighborhood.

In conversation with young people
‘I started in youth work in 2010 in Amsterdam East and IJburg. Things were so bad in IJburg that the municipality removed a Johan Cruijff Court there because there was too much nuisance from young people. I then started talking to the young people and residents of the area. Together with the mothers from the neighborhood, we have set up a sports activity where young people and local residents come together. This has created greater social cohesion: mothers once again play an important role in the lives of young people.’

In Zaanstad, Sinan works in the same way: ‘I talk to the neighborhood. I look for places where young people are and talk to them. This is often a small group initially. If these young people like it, they will bring other young people along.’

From the outside in
‘From the spot on the street, I am looking for a place where people can also exercise indoors. This way we are not dependent on the weather and what is even more important: I am the host inside and I can direct the young people if a boundary is crossed. This is less possible outside, because it is public land and there are many distractions. We can also go to a changing room here if we want to have a conversation with each other undisturbed.’

‘The group of young people has grown steadily, in this gym there are 30 to 40 young people, at Pascal South (the other location) there are 60 to 70 young people. We now reach young people from 12 to 16 years old, but ultimately we also want to do something for the older young people.’

The activities are supervised by Sinan and a number of young people from the neighborhood who are doing an internship or working with him. This ensures that the target group has a familiar face as a supervisor during the activities. The young people see the supervisors not only in the gym, but also in the neighborhood and on the street. Here too, the supervisors can address the young person about his/her behavior. The young people experience that undesirable behavior not only has consequences within the gym, but also outside it.

Coach as role model
‘I choose someone from the neighborhood who the young people know to coach them. He is a role model for the young people. This does not necessarily have to be someone with a higher professional education. Such training does not automatically mean that he can get along well with young people. The connection between the young people and the coach is more important than the extent to which someone is trained.’

The future
‘I want to grow as an organization in small steps, because I believe that you can then guarantee quality. I now also spend a lot of time behind my computer, which is part of it, but what I enjoy most is when I have 1-on-1 contact with the target group itself. I want to maintain contact with all young people. Not so long ago I moved to Zaandam. I would still like to work in this environment in Assendelft. I understand that there is also a need for similar activities and guidance there.’

Tips for the cultural sector
‘If you want to get started with young people here, I would start small, with a few young people hanging around on the street. Then, as a coach, find someone from the neighborhood who the young people know, this does not have to be a professional. So it does not have to be a trained art teacher. It is more important that someone connects with the young people than that someone is very good at his profession.’

The bond you build with the young people and parents is more important than the outcome of the cultural project

‘From the street you can see if there is a space nearby for activities. Listen carefully to the young people about what they would like to do when it comes to art and culture. Inform the parents and invite the parents. It is even more ideal if there is also an offer for the parents, so that the parents also meet more often. The bond you build with the young people and parents is more important than the outcome of the cultural project.’

SK Coaching coaches and guides young people in various neighborhoods, using sports as a means to easily get in touch with different target groups. Within the activities, we actively work on developing skills, such as: working together, dealing with disappointments, helping each other, etc. In addition, we work on strengthening/learning norms and values ​​in a playful way. Read more.

Sinan was IJburger (Amsterdam) of the Year in 2017.

Tip – Also read the interview with De Wereld Kindertheater , which reaches young people through the neighborhoods (in Haarlem).


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