girls plays handball

details of the interview

Role of the Interviewed: gymnastics coach/ PE teacher

Age: 47

Gender: female

Nationality: Bulgarian

Type of radicalization: ethnic discrimination

Historical period collocation: 2016

Date/Country of the Interview: 05/09/2018, Bulgaria

Interviewer: Sdruzhenie “Shans i zakrila” – Opportunity and Protection Association (OPA)


Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)


I do not know if it was radicalization in the case I think of, but I will tell you a story in which there were extreme manifestations of violence among children.
Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?
It happened a few years ago. I was then a teacher in physical education in a primary school. We had a school handball team for girls. The team participated in a regional tournament and ranked first. We had to play in another city with the other regional winners.
On the day of the competition we went to the sports hall. The match started. The girls were playing well. Before the end of the first half of the match one of my girls – Vanya was fouled by a player from the other team, but the foul was not registered by the referees. The tension in the match apparently had an impact on Vanya, and she pushed the other girl roughly. There was a penalty and Vanya had to leave the game for 2 minutes. She did not agree with the referee’s decision and started shouting that they did not considered the foul against her but only her behavior was punished because she was Roma. The match was stopped.  I had to do something because I saw that things would go out of control. It was hard for me to get Vanya out, as she continued screaming and did not want to come out of the handball field.
How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?
Vanya’s words that she was a Roma, and therefore she was treated unfairly  made me think that she had probably been discriminated before, and this triggered this aggression in her.
Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?
I was trying to calm her, but she did not want to hear me. After the match was over, the other girls also wanted to talk to her but she did not want to listen. The crisis lasted a long time.
The next day I talked to her about what had happened. She said that many times she was treated unfairly only because she was of Roma origin and was even insulted. In the handball team she felt she was well accepted and did not expect a discriminatory attitude. She herself was confused.
Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?
At the given moment I felt frightened that I did not know how to deal with the situation or why it happened. Only after the conversation with Vanya I realized that I had not noticed that she had been more vulnerable and that she had been harassed because of her Roma origin. There might have been signs of this, but I had no skills to see them.
End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?
There was no other such situation while Vanya was in the team. It made me more alert to the children with whom I work and to observe their behavior more thoroughly. This careful observation is helping me stop intolerant or discriminative attitude at the very beginning.
identifying discriminatory behaviors