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Matilda Ottelid: “Sports clubs constitute fantastic scenes for bringing change to society”

Matilda Ottelid, the new External Relations Manager of Eos Cares’ “Vinnova Project”, is introducing herself by talking about her mission, the timeliness of working with integration and inclusion and the role that sports clubs can play in today’s society.

How did you learn about the position and what drove you to apply for it?

I saw the ad online and though it would be really exciting. I have a Master’s in Public Health and I think this is a great arena for working with health equity. It is obvious that in a basketball club you work with physical health, but Eos Cares also works with what we call “social determinants of health”, meaning the conditions in which people live, work, their income, social network and so on… Eos Cares targets for example the income inequality, by organizing activities for free and welcoming people that possibly couldn’t afford it otherwise. On top of that, the position in itself sounded interesting, since it’s a good mix of strategic work and planning, and also being out there, learning more and talking to people.

Have you worked with integration projects before?

Yes, integration is a big interest of mine. I used to be a teacher before I changed my occupational orientation, but during the past couple of years I’ve worked in several projects related to integration. For example, I have worked in a project where women learned how to bike. It was really fun, since there were only positive feelings around and everyone was so happy to learn something new. It was so empowering for the women participating and for me as well. Then I worked in a project for integration through cultivation which was also very meaningful and fulfilling. I always wanted to contribute somehow to society and these kinds of projects are good ways to achieving it.

What does the position of External Relations Manager entail?

I am employed in the “Vinnova Project”. My main tasks are to scale up the already existing methods and activities of Eos Cares by spreading the ideas, finding new partners and making the whole project economically sustainable over time. I find the tasks very stimulating so far! Everything is connected in a way, so if we find the right partners to work with, this can open up new opportunities and facilitate what we aim to achieve.

What do you aspire to bring into the role?

I have quite a diverse background and that has given me a diverse network. Having worked with people and integration and also having a general interest in health equity and better inclusion in society, will be useful. My studies are of course also my tools, since they taught me how to do project management and planning.

"I think there is a momentum for projects like ours to grow right now"

To what extent do you think sports and sports clubs can obtain a social role and lead to integration and inclusion?

To a great extent! The most powerful arena for changing fundamental conditions for people is politics, of course. But changes in society and culture are also made on a grassroot level, in the actions of people in their everyday life and though the communities that they are part of. There are a lot of sports clubs in Sweden with so many people already engaged and organized. If we can use all this energy and resources for the good of society, by broadening what the sports clubs do – their social role can become huge!

How do you imagine the project’s status being in a few years with respect to your role’s mission? Could Eos Cares become a role model for sports & integration for other clubs/organizations?

My mission during the “Vinnova project” is to scale-up the activities not only within Eos Cares’ program but also spread it to other organizations. A goal which I am sure we can achieve, since there’s a great need for actors working with integration and inclusion. When it comes to social sustainability, there is a gap between the actual needs of society and what the public sector supplies, a gap that needs to be filled. Therefore, I think there is a momentum for projects like ours to grow right now.

Despina Lappa

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