The Asian German Sports Exchange Programme (A.G.S.E.P.) is an AGO which has been conducting sport events and international exchanges between Sri Lankan and European sport teams since 1989. The organization is based in Marawila, in rural western Sri Lanka. The philosophy of A.G.S.E.P. is that sport is an ideal way of connecting people and transcending social, cultural, ethnic and religious cleavages. Sport events are considered a neutral platform for participants to experience and learn from each other in a playful and open atmosphere. Linking community development to sport event tourism has proven to be beneficial to A.G.S.E.P., the Aquarius Resort, and the local tour operators in rural Sri Lanka. The sport exchange programme has provided more than 5000 participants with the opportunity to have a socio-cultural experience in a foreign country, and thousands of locals were given the opportunity to participate in peaceful inter-community events and exchanges on the island. In times of difficult socio-political circumstances in Sri Lanka, A.G.S.E.P. has continuously attracted international sport tourists to the Aquarius Resort and has given local businesses and communities the chance to benefit economically.
Using the A.G.S.E.P as a case study this chapter will explore how sport events can be used as a catalyst for change, a positive first step, a tool for friendship and network building, for intercultural learning and appreciation, and ultimately peaceful communities.
Asian German Sports Exchange Programme is a non-commercial AGO (Government-associated -organization), which has been made of the objects of lasting shape the peace process in Sri Lanka by the motto “connecting sportspeople”.
Dr. Dietmar Doering, founder of AGSEP in 1989
Volunteers and University Students from Europe
Headquarters in “The Cosy Beach, Beach Road, Marawila”
A.G.S.E.P. is engaged in the following fields of operation:
1. promoting all kinds of sports and development in the poor and remote areas of Sri Lanka by means of interaction and exchanges between national and international sports teams,
2. undertaking feasibility studies, research, and appraisal, and executing programmes and projects for sportspeople and the community development in poor and remote areas of Sri Lanka,
3. organising diversified training courses, workshops, and seminars that are relevant to international sports programmes in order to promote sports practice, language skills, and providing sports equipment,
4. and promoting and organising social projects and other activities in Sri Lanka relevant for the peace process with the assistance of government departments.
According to the A.G.S.E.P. philosophy sports function as a bridge for intercultural communication and as a medium which is capable of melting the ice between different ethnic groups and cultures. Thus, sports are a form of social communication which can help to overcome language barriers and ongoing conflicts.