Tiro en Braille (Braille Shot), a ground-breaking university SDP project
The 21st century has witnessed an incredible growth, maturation, and institutionalization of a wide social, political, and economic movement, which despite all the different names that are associated with it, it is frequently and known as Sport for Development and Peace (SDP). The SDP movement has a truly global dimension. Moreover, the actors, as anyone can verify when surfing the Swiss-based platform - sportanddev.org- are spread all over the world.
As of October 2020, there are slightly more than 1020 SDP organizations registered in sportanddev.org, a phenomenal increase that has not stopped during the first two decades of the century. Nonetheless, there is a clear pattern in which SDP seems to be focused on ‘suffering’, ‘disadvantaged’, and ‘marginalized’ individuals and groups; therefore, it is not uncommon to find that, regardless of the geographical origin and/or location of the sponsor(s) and the target groups, the latter oftentimes fall into one ore more of the following categories: people living in poverty, teens using drugs, refugees, illegal immigrants, disadvantaged girls and women, former combatants, disabled people, etc. In short, one gains the impression that SDP targets either solely or mainly struggling individuals or groups. If this is the case, one may wonder, what are the chances that SDP projects/initiatives may reach the non-traditional disadvantaged groups? Is it possible for ‘ordinary’, ‘regular’ people to access the benefits that SDP may deliver? After all, the benefits may cut across social class, gender, ethnicity, educational level, race and/or skills?
At Universidad de Guanajuato, in central Mexico, we do believe that university students have been to a large extent, forgotten by the SDP movement. It is increasingly evident that our students, as it happens with the more than 4 million university students across Mexico, face their own particular hardships, not always or exclusively related to economic disadvantages. Indeed, while university students may be considered relatively well-off, it is no secret that they currently face at least three pressing issues: 1) high drop-out rates, which reduces their higher education completion; 2) increasing stress and/or sense of alienation, which oftentimes leads to suicide, and 3) gender violence, which perpetuates inequalities and empowerment issues, especially for women.
The initiative that led to the creation of Tiro en Braille (Braille Shot) is a 100% Mexican, university initiative, inspired in the global SDP movement, while not losing sight that the problems and hardships that university students face have an specific territorial component. Tiro en Braille (Braille Shot) is a purposely designed sporting activity that aims to be played in an all-gendered, all-abilities format. Moreover, in a country with deep and spread Amerindian roots, Tiro en Braille (Braille Shot) recovers and honors pre-Columbian sports, although it does so with global reference frameworks in mind.