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The Sporting Spirit

The Sporting Spirit

By John Luke Chua
This podcast is hosted by John Luke Chua and Carl Söderling about current issues in sport that polarize public opinion, with a focus on its social and political dimensions. They are joined by a diverse array of guests, comprising of athletes, academics and leaders within the sporting world.

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23. Niñas sin Miedo
A study published the last time there was a European Championships being played found that 1 in every 3 women in Colombia aged between 15-49 had experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of their intimate partner, at least once in their lifetime (Bott et al., 2016). Indeed, stereotypes, discrimination and grossly unequal socio-economic conditions have had a direct impact on violence against women in Colombia. This week, we make our mid-summer return by speaking to Maria Alejandra Vanegas, the program coordinator of a Soacha-based NGO that seeks to  promote human rights in Colombia, with an emphasis on  female sexual and reproductive rights. Tune in to find out more about the organisation, and how bicycles of all things, play a critical role in providing young women and girls with the opportunity to take control of their own lives.  
June 25, 2021
22. Futbolera
Football and the Americas are an inseparable duo, although this enduring relationship seems to disentangle the farther North you go, no matter how hard David Beckham tries. Something that is often frustratingly ignored and suppressed however, is the long and rich history of Women’s football particularly in Latin America. On the pod this week, we are joined by Prof. Brenda Elsey, an expert in the subject and co-author of the seminal book “Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America”. Tune in as we attempt to cover the social-history of Women’s football in Latin America, particularly in the Southern Cone, but somewhere in between delve into a frank discussion about the future of football as whole and which path the Women’s game might take.
May 06, 2021
21. Albion in the Community
What a difference a couple of days make, so much so that the “soul of football” was lost as quickly as it was eventually won back. Hence, who better to speak to than a Premier League football club who are not just happy and thankful to be where they are on the pitch, but doing some really important work off it. On this week’s episode, we speak to Paul Williams of Albion in the Community (AITC), the official charity of Brighton and Hove Albion F.C. Tune in as Paul tells us all about the crucial work that AITC are doing in their local area, the initiatives he is in charge of as head of community programmes, and football clubs as anchor institutions in modern society.
April 22, 2021
20. Slum Soccer
India, the world’s second most populated country, has enjoyed almost three decades of unparalleled economic growth. Indeed, between 2018 and 2022, India is estimated to produce approximately 70 new millionaires every day.  Despite the irrefutable economic progress, data collected from the Homeless World Cup showed about 1.8 million homeless individuals living in India as of 2019. This showcases the revolting inequality that clearly exists not just in India, but in many other large developing nations in the Global South. On this week’s episode, we speak to Abhijeet Barse, one of the founders of an organisation that aims to combat homelessness and improve the living conditions of underprivileged communities all over India, through football. Tune in to find out more about his organisation’s work in slum communities, and how sport for development has added value to the collective fight against inequality and homelessness in these vulnerable communities. 
April 08, 2021
19. Coaches Across Continents
So far on the pod, we've had the great of fortune of speaking to a number of passionate and forward-looking stakeholders in the field of Sport for Development, although none quite like our guest this time round.  On this week's  episode, we speak to Nora Dooley who is the impact team leader for Coaches Across Continents (CaC), an organization whose pioneering work within the S4D terrain is increasingly being recognized internationally. Tune in to find out more about the organization, it's unique working principles and nomadic set-up, as well as Nora's interesting personal journey as a footballer turned practitioner in the humanitarian field. 
March 18, 2021
18. Sport & Politics in the Western Balkans
The Western Balkans is not an easy place to define, although most academics and experts do agree that the highly-politicized geographical term generally refers to Albania and territories of former Yugoslavia. Similarly, the way sport is organized in the region is equally complex and elusive. On this week’s episode, Dr.  Marko Begović, an expert in all things sport policy in the Western Balkans, joins us the pod. Tune in as Marko gives us a 101 on the Third Way form of political governance that underpinned the sports system in former Yugoslavia, the legacy of that system on the way sport is now being run in countries such as his homeland Montenegro, as well as sport as a political apparatus that’s increasingly being hijacked by right-wing nationalists the world over.
March 04, 2021
17. The Paralympic Movement: a social history
“If I ever did one good thing in my medical career it was to introduce sport into the treatment and rehabilitation of disabled people”, are the famous words of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a Jewish neurosurgeon and pioneer of the Paralympic movement. On this week's episode, Prof. David Howe,  a decorated 4-time Paralympian and social anthropologist in the field of disability sport guides us through the social history of the Paralympic movement. Tune in, as Prof. Howe shares with us his unique journey from being an elite athlete to academic expert, as well as his critical examination of the evolution of the Paralympic movement from platform of rehabilitation for people with disabilities to its current focus on elite-performance, and the complex tensions that have arisen because of this. 
February 18, 2021
16. EU Athletes
Where do elite athletes turn to when they are treated unfairly by their employers? By that, we don't mean when Gareth Bale is being left out of the team or when Messi needs another hike in his wages. On this week's episode, we speak to Paulina Tomcyzk, General Secretary of the European Elite Athletes Association, simply known as EU Athletes. Tune in as she talks to us about the role EU Athletes play in championing the rights of athletes in Europe, whether or not the athlete's voice is being effectively heard in Brussels, and the age-old perception of elite athletes as being 'privileged' just to be able to play, rather than as workers who have basic employment rights just like in any other profession.
February 11, 2021
15. Ganesport
As Southeast Asia's largest and most populated country, Indonesia has made gigantic economic strides in recent years and is arguably the most mature democracy in the region, under the leadership of President Joko Widodo, more affectionately know as "Jokowi". However, state funding for sport in the region is still mainly focused on the elite or performance-level, whilst initiatives to encourage mass sport participation is lacking and largely left up to non-governmental and private actors to organize. This week, Carl makes his long-awaited comeback and joins me in speaking to the founding figures of the Jakarta-based sport policy think-tank, Ganesport. Tune in, as we ask them about the history of mass sport participation in Indonesia, the influential work that Ganesport has undertaken to promote grassroots sport in the region, as well as their thoughts on a potential 2032 Olympics Games in their home country! 
February 04, 2021
14. The Modern Olympic Games Part II
From its resumption following the end of WW2 up until the late 1980's, the Olympic Games simply weren't the Olympic Games without political boycotts. In total, there were 108 nation states that boycotted the games in that time period.  This week, Prof. Jörg Krieger  joins us once more for the second installment of our analysis on the pivotal political events that have shaped the modern Olympic Games into its current form. Join us as we discuss the significance of the iconic Black Power Salute and its legacy today, how Cold War tensions played out on the sporting stage, as well as whether or not the "the games must go on" in Tokyo.   
January 21, 2021
13. The Modern Olympic Games Part I
"CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS" are the iconic words that continue to inspire a new generation of aspiring young athletes all over the world. Together with the five rings symbolizing the five continents, these two elements have come to embody the modern Olympic Games for what we recognize it as today - an all-inclusive movement that hosts the par excellence of sport every four years. Yet, those distinguishing elements couldn't have been  further from what it's controversial aristocratic founder, Pierre de Coubertin, had envisaged when he first conceived of the idea of resurrecting an Ancient Greek tradition. On the pod this week, we speak to Associate Prof. Dr. Jörg Krieger, a well-esteemed sports historian and all-round Olympics connoisseur, going back in time to trace the origins of the modern games and the role of its contentious founding father. Tune in as we discuss the the movement's early years, from the first modern games in its ancestral home of Athens in 1896 , to the last before WWII broke out, hosted by Adolf Hitler's increasingly omnipotent Nazi Germany.
January 14, 2021
12. The EFDN: beyond the pitch
The "power of football"  is something of a worn-out cliché, and sometimes feels like nothing more than a feel-good PR exercise.  However, in the last few decades, football has been taken more seriously in the field of development work. It has been argued to not only provide a basis for physical fitness and healthy living, but as a tool for tackling various social issues ranging from youth unemployment to refugee integration. On this week's show, we speak to Robert Maaskant, programme and partnerships manager at the European Football for Development Network (EFDN), an organization that provides guidance and support within the context of community and social responsibility in European football. Tune in as we discuss the day-to-day workings of the EFDN, the importance of "off the field" contributions of football clubs in their respective local communities, as well his transition from the elite level football to the community-centric work at the EFDN.  
January 07, 2021
11. Palestine: Sports for Life
As 2020 finally draws to a close, we're wrapping up this tumultous year with yet another fantastic guest. This week, we speak to the founder of a Palestine-based sports for development NGO, Tamara Awartani. Tune in as she tells us about the incredible work she has been doing in her homeland Palestine, amid challenging circumstances.
December 31, 2020
10. Sport for Development: If you don't know, now you know....
It's Christmas Eve, but we ain't letting you off that easily. Sport for Development (SFD) means a lot of things to a lot of different people, and yet, it's often associated with NGO work run by Global North actors in the Global South. This week, we speak to the passionate SFD researcher Louis Moustakas, whose previous work experiences at StreetFootballWorld and the African Youth Games in Botswana makes him the ideal candidate to appraise this "philanthropic" field of work. MERRY XMAS EVERYONE !!!!!!!
December 24, 2020
9. The Realities of Being a Football Agent
On this week's very special episode, we speak to Mel Stein, President of the Association of Football Agents and one of the first English solicitors to be regarded as a specialist sports lawyer. Having managed several high profile British players throughout the 1990s, including Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle and Alan Shearer, Mel gives us his take on the negative preconception of football agents as portrayed by the popular press, FIFA's controversial role in regulating football transfers, as well as his experiences in dealing with a young "Gazza" at the peak of his powers!
December 17, 2020
8. Sports and Corruption
Corruption exists in each and every walk of life, and sport  is certainly no exception to that rule. Rule-bending practices such as match-fixing, systematic doping and tax evasion has for centuries been sewn deep into the fabric of both professional and amateur sport. In this brand new episode, we speak to the passionate sport integrity expert and AEK Athens supporter, Dr. Elisavet Manoli of Loughborough University. Tune in as we delve into the complexities of defining corruption, the kinds of social and organizational problems that are the root of the problem, and whether or not countries that lack robust democratic features are more  prone to sports corruption than others. We're back and ready to go!
December 10, 2020
The late-Autumn Outro
Before we take a little hiatus from the pressures of the cut-throat entertainment business, we talk about the hurdles we've faced while recording some of the interviews on our $8.99 mics, THE question many of you have asked, and what we have in store on future episodes. Turn up the heating and see y'all in the depths of winter, in the Sporting Spirit's and probably Donald Trump's, second term. The excitement is palpable. 
October 08, 2020
7. Sport & the F Word
"Let us then, by being allowed to take the same exercise as boys, not only during infancy, but youth, arrive at perfection of body, that we may know how far the natural superiority of man extends", were words written by the English author and one of the founding feminist philosophers, Mary Wollstonecraft. The world, in many respects, has certainly moved on since her famous book championing the rights of women to receive rational education, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, was published in 1792. However, sport at times certainly feels like it's still being played according to 18th century rules, if you're a woman anyway. On this week's episode, we speak to the two Lisas, who are the co-founders of the female empowerment blog, Fan Von Dir. They discuss with us the idea behind their initiative, and fill us in on questions to do the types of stories the sportswomen which they write about tell, along with mechanisms that can be leveraged in order to get females level on the scoreboard with their male counterparts in sport.  
October 01, 2020
6. Gender Diversity and Inclusion in Sport
Over the last few decades, societies all over the world (not all, obvsly) have come round to the long-overdue realization that you can be whatever you feel yourself to be. Compared to  other areas, this remains arguably the most polarizing issue in sport. This week, we speak to the brilliant Prof. Karolin Heckemeyer on the archaic gender ideals of sport, the narrative of competitive fairness and perhaps more importantly, whether there could be a  future whereby individuals can compete in whichever gender category they identify as, without discrimination. 
September 24, 2020
5. Sports and Politikspeak
Who will throw the knock-out punch in this year's U.S General Elections? The current P.O.T.U.S is up to his usual tricks, of playing the man not the ball, by calling political opponent Joe Biden, “weak as hell,” “stupid,” and “a low-IQ individual”. In the primaries, Biden certainly stepped up to the plate despite not being the initial frontrunner. Will Kanye West be a realistic dark horse option?  I think you get the point now. On this week's episode, we chat to Daniele Canepa, a linguistics expert, writer and proud Genoese who tells us about how and why sport lexicon is so prevalent in politics. Drawing on examples from his native homeland, Daniele tells us about Silvio Berlusconi's dramatic rise to political power,  beginning with his ownership of A.C Milan and subsequently utilizing different sporting metaphors in his attempt to alter the way in which Italians relate to politics, creating a positive public image for himself and his new political party, and to attract particular sections of the electorate. We're certainly in full swing on this one! 
September 17, 2020
4. Labour Rights of Athletes and Elite Sport's Existential Crisis
Are professional athletes simply employees who run a round a bit more than you and I? Do they have the same labour rights as "regular" workers? How has ability of the stakeholders in sport to make ends meet been threatened during the pandemic? These are the central questions of this weeks episode, as we chat to the erudite European sport policy expert, lecturer and Die Grün-Weißen fan,  Dr. Till Müller-Schoell. Tune in as he gives us the long and short (mostly long) on all things sport policy, as well as his outlook on neo-liberal thought and corporate interests in sport that seems to be increasingly vulnerable. 
September 10, 2020
3. Sports in the Age of the Climate Crisis
In this week's episode, we speak to Madeleine Orr, a leading light in the field of sport and environmental sustainability. Maddy speaks to us about sport's complex relationship, at best, with mother nature and whether or not FIFA World Cups are still a good idea in the epoch of our Climate Emergency. And of course, what's an episode on the environment  without discussing the Green New Deal, and more importantly how sport can help push it along! P.S Carl and his Swedish contacts also tried to get Greta on, but she was too busy protesting outside the Swedish Parliament, and it wasn't even a Friday....
September 03, 2020
2. On Being a Semi-Professional Black Athlete
Joshua Akena is a Swedish athlete, who plays American Football for the Uppsala 86ers. Like Sweden's favourite son in recent years, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he stands out both at home and abroad because of his immigrant background. Unlike Zlatan, he works in the daytime as an accountant too. In this week's episode, we speak to Josh about the insecurities of being a semi-professional athlete in the age of COVID-19 as well as  his experiences as a black athlete in Scandinavia and in the United States. 
August 27, 2020
1. Black Athletes, Civil Rights and Political Protests
In our first full episode, we sit down with Prof. Louis Moore of Grand Valley State University to discuss the role that sport and athletes have played in political protests throughout modern history. We look back in time at the role that Black athletes played during the civil rights movement, and discuss whether or not their roles have evolved in the advent of the Black Lives Matters movement. 
August 20, 2020
We are The Sporting Spirit
Selamat Datang & Hallå! In our introduction, we tell you about why we decided to throw ourselves into this niche realm as well as a bit about where we drew inspiration from in coming up with the theme and title of our podcast. 
August 12, 2020