#ESP2021: Interview with the Rector of the Lithuanian Sports University Prof. Dr. Diana Rėklaitienė
Lithuanian Sports University (LSU) is one of the hosts of the upcoming European Sport Platform 2021 and the CHAMP project conference. We talked to the Rector of the LSU, Prof. Dr. Diana Rėklaitienė, to learn more about the decision the host the event and the collaboration between the grassroots sport movement and Universities.
What inspired you, and the University, to host the European Sport Platform 2021?
Lithuanian Sports University is the only higher education institution in Lithuania that offers 19 degree study programmes related to sport at all three study cycles. Here at the University, we have students not only from Lithuania but also from other countries and these are not just limited to the EU countries. Our mission is to contribute to the sustainable development of society through international-level research and academic excellence. This means that we also have a mission to be experts and leaders in our country and help in solving global sports-related issues in the state and society, show the importance of sport for the development of a sustainable society and propose the best solutions and strategies. And as we know, ENGSO is an important organization of a wide profile, uniting sport organizations from 34 European countries and having the mission to represent, develop and advocate for voluntary-based sport in Europe. We think it is important to use the opportunity to bring together responsible Lithuanian personalities and institutions to exchange best practices with the experts in sports from other countries. The problems highlighted by ENGSO - good governance, gender equality, match-fixing, social inclusion, sustainable financing of grassroots sport - are also relevant for Lithuania and we need to share our experience and knowledge if we want to tackle these problems effectively. I think that the event European Sport Platform 2021 is mutually beneficial - both for Lithuania to introduce our country to the international community, and to have the opportunity for Lithuanian sports professionals to participate in an event of this scale.
How important is the collaboration between ENGSO, grassroots sport organisations and Sport Science Universities such as LSU? What is the role of LSU, and how can sport science contribute to the development of grassroots sport in Europe?
All organizations working in the sport sector or for it have their own missions, but they cannot fulfil all the functions and overall mission of the sport on their own. That’s why it is so important to collaborate, understand and support each other. Universities train specialists for all sport areas - from coaches, instructors, PE teachers, managers to sports physicians. After graduating from the university, these people stay in the sport sector and create a system for the future. Depending on what knowledge, values and competencies they bring from the university, they will create such a future for sport.
Universities also carry out scientific research, much of which is applied research that needs to be supported and benefited by the sports sector. Lithuanian Sports University has research teams which conduct research projects and activities in the areas of management and economics of sport and leisure; methodology of sports and exercise training; adapted physical activity; muscles, motor control and health; rehabilitation; physical education - this means that sports organizations would benefit from our targeted research helping coaches, instructors, managers to motivate people to play sports, to be physically active, to do it in a healthy, fair and efficient way, to organize sports activities and events.
Thus, co-operation is also needed in this place so that scientists understand problems of this sector, and clarify the need for one or another research. At the same time, students and scientists are not far from the sector today and understand the needs and problems of practitioners. Universities also can help a lot the sport practitioners to raise their qualifications, update knowledge and become modern and attractive.
Please tell us something about yourself, your professional career and sport background.
All my life, from a very early childhood, I was involved in different sports activities, but the longest time I danced sports dances and also competed. Later there was aerobic gymnastics and till now I am more or less involved in different kind of recreational physical activities: kayaking, skiing, cycling, golf, swimming, yoga, Pilates. I also used to train aerobics and worked as an APA specialist with children with special needs. I studied physiotherapy at the Lithuanian Sports University, and my research for the doctoral thesis was focused on adapted physical activity. During my working career I worked as an associated professor at the Department of Applied Biology and Rehabilitation, later I became the Head of the Department of Sports Management and Tourism, then the Head of the Department of Coaching Science, a member of the LSU Senate and Council and three years ago I was elected as the LSU Rector. So I have experience and knowledge in a wide range of sports-related areas : leisure sports, rehabilitation, APA, coaching, and sports management.