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Urban Youth Games

From Experiences to Initiatives: A Conversation With Antoine Degavre, General Manager of the Urban Youth Games

As we near the end of 2022, we sat down with Antoine Degavre, the General Manager of the Urban Youth Games, to reflect on the past year. It has been a year of growth and learning through various experiences. The company is not resting on its successes, but rather is actively planning numerous new initiatives and improvement projects that will help even more children learn and embrace the values of inclusivity through sports.

How do you reflect on the past year?

I am extremely proud of what our team has accomplished. I am also grateful for the enthusiasm of the numerous individuals and organizations that have contributed to the project and supported the growth of the Urban Youth Games. It is inspiring to see such diverse engagement, which truly energizes me

How did the project grow this past year?

Our organization is growing rapidly. At the beginning of 2022, we faced limitations in terms of staffing. However, after launching two vacancies, we were able to hire two new people. In addition, we also added two new host cities to our list and were integrated into Plan Samenleven, an initiative of the Flemish government that supports local authorities in promoting living together in diversity. We also strengthened our partnership with Team Belgium to promote Olympic values to the youth, and we achieved many other milestones as well.

What are you most proud of?

On an internal level, I am very proud to be surrounded by dedicated people who believe firmly in our organization’s mission and who put their hearts into our different initiatives. Externally, it is a great honour to have been included in Plan Samenleven (Agentschap Binnenlands Bestuur, via Minister Somers). Urban Youth Games was selected as one of the 24 robust projects that support and promote equality and diversity throughout Flanders. Being included in Plan Samenleven is a great recognition of our organization’s contribution to society, particularly for future generations.

What is your best memory of 2022?

It’s difficult to choose just one highlight, as there have been so many! 😊 If I had to pick, I would say that seeing the smiles and amazement on the children’s faces during our recent events in Uccle and La Louvière was particularly special. Even in the cold weather, their enthusiasm was palpable and ignited a fire within them.

What did you learn this past year? 

We learned to never underestimate the Belgian weather. During the second day of our opening event in Molenbeek, we were caught off guard by a sudden and severe weather change that was near apocalyptic. Within just ten minutes, the atmosphere had completely transformed. We had no choice but to cancel the event and reschedule the following day’s event too. It was a scary moment, but it also taught us some valuable lessons.

What would you like to improve next year?

There are two main areas we hope to improve next year. Firstly, we want to increase accessibility for children with physical disabilities and visual impairments at our events. While we have successfully welcomed many youngsters with intellectual disabilities, we need to improve conditions for all attendees in terms of accessibility, experience, and communication, … Secondly, we aim to further advance our social inclusion plan. We plan to expand the challenges, which involve year-round meetings between young people from general and special education and also host our inaugural national event.

Which elements in the pipeline are you most excited about?

We have a lot of exciting things coming up! Firstly, we will be hosting our inaugural national event on May 26, 2023, in Brussels. Additionally, we are in the process of preparing for something major in the lead-up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Stay tuned for more exciting updates in the near future! 😊