This month, Rational Games is proud to present its latest grantee: the KICK on Ice project (KOI) in Berlin. Through our good friends at the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, we got to know this engaging project earlier this year and were immediately taken with its appeal and potential. Laureus Sport for Good supports social sports programs that use sport as a tool to help children and young people overcome violence, discrimination and disadvantage in their lives.
KICK on Ice was founded by three partners and enjoys the support of the larger KICK project funded by the Berlin Senate. It is now led by the formidable Jan Kaminski, former youth swimmer for the German Democratic Republic and now passionate ice hockey trainer, coach and philanthropist,. KOI`s mission is to prevent violence and conflict by making sport (especially ice hockey) available to all, especially at-risk youths in the more difficult neighborhoods of both eastern and western Berlin. In their 12 annual “Midnight on the Ice” nights, KOI uses the highest-risk hours of crime to invite and transport these young people from the streets to the ice rink, to teach them ice hockey and inspire them to use sport to come together without violence.
Since 2004, KOI has built quite a following, and each season is in regular contact with 200 to 250 kids, many of them from a non-German background, what we are now calling “new arrivals”. They offer two weekly hockey trainings, at two locations, organized in seven teams who train towards a fairly exciting season-end tournament in late March.
It was our privilege to attend this last tournament this year and to help organize a small fundraiser for it, working closely with German star figure skater Katarina Witt. The evening led to a further EUR 30K in badly needed financial support, which we hope to increase to EUR 50K in 2020.
There are three things we very much like about this project:
- The heartwarming and very hands-on engagement of Jan and his team in working with the kids. This is far more than athletic coaching and has to be witnessed firsthand to be described. In that, it is a perfect match for the RGI mission of using games and play to resolve conflict.
- The pedagogical content of the intervention. KOI teaches sport, exercise and also social competence (there is a very interesting peer group approach to conflict management), but their concept goes far deeper. They are using hockey to reinforce positive values like teamwork, fair play and trust.
- The considerable potential that this idea has to grow. If we can raise further funding, we can not only increase the scope of the project but also take it further into new initiatives focused on the new arrival community and also handicapped skaters, as well as strengthening the network of program “graduates” and helping with job placement. RGI is doing what it can nonfinancially as well, through capacity building for KOI in some of the business areas that are just as important as the athletics.