5th European Week of Sport moved people and encouraged debate across the continent

Updated: Oct 15, 2019

The European Week of Sport, organised on 23–30 September annually, brought together more than 13,000,000 Europeans to engage in sport and physical activity. Several representatives from ENGSO staff, Executive Committee, Youth Committee and member organisations took part in the opening celebrations of the week, organised in Espoo, Finland on 23–24 September 2019.

This year marked the 5th anniversary of the European Week of Sport, an initiative by the European Commission, and also the last edition of the week as Tibor Navracsics in charge of sports policy in the Commission. Throughout Commissioner Navracsics’s term, the initiative has been growing, and this year engaged 47 partner organisations – ENGSO being one of them – in 42 countries within and outside of the EU.

On 23 September, the official opening was organised in Espoo, Finland, where more than 8,000 school children celebrated and demonstrated a #BeActive lifestyle in the context of the annual School Action Day. Commissioner Navracsics opened the Week with a brief speech and a friendly pannafootball tournament against a local team of freestyle football athletes.

ENGSO representatives at the Opening of the European Week of Sport in Espoo. Browse through the gallery by clicking on the arrows.

Following the opening ceremony, a seminar was organised on “How to make young people more active?” at the nearby Sello Hall. Finnish municipalities from the metropole region – Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa – presented best practices how they are encouraging their young citizens to become physically active. Their examples included a partnership with sports clubs to give every child a hobby free of charge in Espoo, and “sport buddies” that help children find an active and meaningful hobby in Vantaa. Also the celebrated “Schools on the Move” programme was presented.

A panel on the role of sports organisations was moderated by Heidi Pekkola, the Deputy Director of the European Olympic Committees’ EU Office, facilitating interesting discussion and sharing examples on how organised sports and clubs are promoting an active and healthy lifestyle for our youngest. During the panel, ENGSO ExCom member Ilva Biedre from the Latvian Sports Federation’s Council presented briefly our CHAMP project, which helps sports clubs implement new tools and strategies to engage more Europeans in sport. CHAMP is gathering best practice from the field of sport – and beyond – to be shared through national training sessions and a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Ilva Biedre highlighted the role of national organisations in an excellent way:

“We can support [an active lifestyle] – as an umbrella organisation – by putting sport higher on the political agenda.”

Ilva Biedre took part in a panel, also briefly presenting the ENGSO-led project CHAMP.
Ilva Biedre took part in a panel, also briefly presenting the ENGSO-led project CHAMP.

In his closing speech, Commissioner Navracsics invited all stakeholders – schools, sports clubs, local authorities, regions, as well as the European level – in the quest to make young people active. He also reminded that sport clubs need to be accessible, affordable, and fun in order to make young people active in different sports and disciplines.

A second conference was organised by the Finnish EU Presidency during the following day, on the topic of Safeguarding Children in Sport, touching upon a wide range of issues from sport’s role in empowering children to preventing physical injuries, bullying and sexual harassment. ENGSO Secretary General Kaisa Larjomaa moderated the first half of the conference, including an interactive panel, where the keynote speakers – including three researchers and one coach – discussed the role of coaches and parents, and gave their recommendations on safe sports to policy makers.

Photos from the conference on safeguarding children in sport. Browse through the gallery by clicking on the arrows. (Photo credit of the first photo: Alina Ainola)

The sensitive topics of abuse, harassment and bullying were addressed during the second half of the conference. Experts from the IOC, UEFA and FIFA presented initiatives that enhance the protection of young athletes and safeguard children’s rights in sport. During a panel discussion amongst the experts and Tine Vertommen, author of the European Commission Study on Safeguarding Children in Sport, further actions were discussed. Vertommen underlined the need to shift focus and address the issues at the grassroots level.

The conference discussions provided input for the upcoming Council conclusions on safeguarding children in sports, to be adopted by EU Sport Ministers in November 2019.

During the week, altogether more than 50,000 events were organised by European Week of Sport partners, including several ENGSO members, who act as national coordinators of the week. This year ENGSO raised the #BeActive spirit and participated in the extravaganza on social media, and ENGSO Youth launched their inspiring campaign on social media #ILoveSportBecause.

ENGSO and ENGSO Youth campaigning for a #BeActive Europe. Browse through the gallery by clicking on the arrows.