The historical-cultural richness of Gotland Island and its capital Visby was the setting chosen by the Swedish Sports Confederation to inspire the participants of the ENGSO General Assembly. In conjunction with the official gathering, we had the opportunity to assemble and invite other players – not only ENGSO Members – to attend a most interesting seminar. A set of sport political issues, including gender equality, sexual orientation in sport and an update of EU sports policy, were presented and discussed, giving all of us the possibility to update our knowledge on these topics.
In Visby we had not only one but in fact two General Assemblies. In the “traditional” one, the representatives of our members made decisions concerning the ENGSO organisational running issues, including the 2019 Work Plan and the new ENGSO Policy Programme. In the Extraordinary General Assembly, an up-to-date version of the Statutes was approved, to better reflect the changes that have happened within and outside our organisation.
The workshop preceding the adoption of the ENGSO Policy Programme gave the members the opportunity to discuss the policy priorities of ENGSO in the years to come. I was happy to observe that the lively and active discussion would have continued well beyond the designated slot in the seminar agenda.
The ENGSO Policy Programme compiles and updates the many policy documents produced by ENGSO over the years – some of them well before the signature of the Lisbon Treaty, which was an important milestone in building the political dimension of sport at an EU level. For me, the adoption of the ENGSO Policy Programme was one of the most important moments of the weekend. Health-enhancing physical activity, sport and social inclusion, gender equality and equality in and through sport, youth development and involvement, education, training and volunteering are some of the policy areas that are developed in the modernised document adopted in Visby.
Furthermore, the ENGSO Policy Programme will serve as a strong basis for our advocacy work in the process of negotiating and adopting the multiannual budget of the European Union. The European Commission has proposed to double the EU funding of sport for the financial term 2021–2027, an improvement that we are warmly welcoming. While our gaze is in the post-2020 horizon, grassroots sports should take advantage of the many current funding opportunities provided by the EU at this very moment.
To maintain the positive, progressive ambiance of the #ENGSOGA2018 and continue those debates later this year, I am happy to announce that we are organising the first European Sport Platform on 16–17 November 2018 in Budapest, in collaboration with the Hungarian Competitive Sport Federation and the European Lotteries. The conference themes, “the modern sports club” and “esports meets sports clubs”, touch upon issues that are highly relevant for ENGSO members and the wider sports movement. We hope to get a good participation in the event and intend to make the European Sport Platform an annual tradition.
Other highlights of the remaining half of the year include the European Week of Sport, which is organised on 23–30 September annually by the European Union in collaboration with partners such as ENGSO. Our successful ASPIRE project is also stepping into its last operative year, organising training sessions from autumn 2018 to spring 2019 all over Europe to teach sports clubs how to become accessible to refugees.
On a very different note, I must mention the fact that ENGSO is now represented in the Consultative Committee Bureau of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) of the Council of Europe – by the undersigned. The election took place in Strasbourg in May, and my mandate is for two years. With my five Bureau colleagues I will be supporting the Consultative Committee with preparing its work and setting its thematic priorities. I’m utmost honoured that I have been given the chance to represent ENGSO, its members and the sports movement at large in such a high-level organisational structure.