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Irina Gorbatikova Bondarenko

Director, Administrative Department, Freeport of Riga Authority, Latvia

Street sports and culture events for positive development of disregarded areas and society

The 800 years ancient port of Riga today  plays a significant role in global and regional cargo supply chains and passenger traffic network in the Baltic Sea region, providing safe and reliable services.
Being the integral part of the Riga city, the Port recognises its social and environmental responsibilities, and not only makes a strong contribution to the growth of Latvia’s economy but also strives for the reputation of a socially responsible entity and a good neighbour.
We strongly believe that areas labelled as “ghetto” can be turned into places of positivity and hope; street sports and culture elements can be used as a tool to develop young people’s personalities in sense of correct values and to help with different integration processes in society.
Therefore, Freeport of Riga Authority started to support street sports and culture events in Latvia for positive development of disregarded areas and society groups by working in partnership with Street sports and culture movement Ghetto Games – youth non-governmental organisation.
Ghetto Games started street sports and culture activities in 2009, when the economic crises hit Latvia very hard. Group of young people decided to gather together and develop a place for street sports and culture activities in one of the most unfavourable areas in Riga – Grizinkalns. Everyone could come to this place and do democratic, easy accessible lifestyle activities that most of the young people are interested in: streetball, street football, street dance, skateboard, BMX, inline skating, floorball, pancration, hip-hop music.
Ghetto Games movement has positively impacted this disadvantaged area in Riga and over time  – with development of grassroots sports activities, development of sports infrastructure and involvement of young people in volunteering , have turned this area into the most sportive areas in the city.
At the moment Ghetto Games is the largest street sports and culture movement in Eastern Europe that each year  involves in its activities about  10 000 participants, around 200 volunteers aged from 13 – 25 years and over 250 000 young people in social media.
The Riga city residents highly evaluate the fact that the municipal port of Riga is actively involved in healthy lifestyle and sport activities’s promotion.
With the support of the Freeport of Riga Authority Ghetto Games has spread this movement beyond the borders of Latvia.
The presentation informs about one positive example from cooperation with organisations and street sports activists from Philippines, Manila:
Ghetto Games team was living in Manila in January 2017 and during this stay activists in cooperation with local organisations carried out one streetball tournament and one street dance event as well as worked with local young people in one of the disregarded areas in Manila.
This presentation explains step by step how this kind of project may be implemented in any port city with the know-how of the Ghetto Games team and introduces the  experience of the close cooperation between our organisations.
We encourage other ports to follow this vivid example of Freeport of Riga Authority social corporate responsibility programme  and to support this movement by launching street sports and culture activities in order to develop disregarded areas and society groups.


With a rich experience of already 20 years in the port of Riga Irina is in charge of activities related to administration, training, international relations and port promotion.
She obtained her B.A. degree (English Philology and Literature) at the Latvian State University and M.D. in Translation & Interpretation, Faculty of Humanities, University of Vigo, Spain;
She was conferred the Diploma of Port management training after completing the International Program for Port Planning and Management in New Orleans, the USA;
She is a member of Communication and Training committee in the International Association of Ports and harbours (IAPH), Member of General Assembly for Latvia in European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO), Representative for Latvia in the International Association of Cities and Ports (AIVP).
Irina is an Honorary Citizen of the City of New Orleans.
Being Russian her native language she speaks Spanish, English and Latvian fluently. She also knows Galician language.