A couple of years ago, when the “High Level Group on Grassroots Sport” was set up under the political leadership of Commissioner Tibor Navracsics to prepare the report “Grassroots Sport- Shaping Europe”, I learnt that sometimes it was challenging to enhance in the document the crucial role of sport clubs and the organised sports movement in the development of sport. This was the case, even though when we are looking back to the growing of sport since the late XIX century until today, actually the backbone of the development of sport, especially in Europe, were the sport clubs at grassroots level. However, the world is changing. We have to acknowledge that more recently other types of organisations, many of them more business orientated, are also playing some role in the field of grassroots sport. We must protect and help the clubs’ network to accommodate to today’s needs, as the sports clubs will always be crucial, due to their associative character. They are in fact the cornerstones of the development of physical activity and sport. Compared to the organisations with only private interests, the clubs also have sustainable structures in place, which we cannot afford to lose.
Having in mind the importance of sport clubs and knowing the difficulties that many of them are experiencing in the new trends of the XXI century society, ENGSO will have this topic as one of the priorities of its future work. We started the discussion with some representatives of our member organisations in the High-Level Round Table meeting, which was organised in Copenhagen in January. Based on the fruitful discussions, we see that there is a need for the modernisation of the sport movement and clubs in many countries in Europe. With these needed changes, we can also encourage participation in sport and physical activity and help the sport clubs to face a brighter future. More is to come so please stay tuned, as we will announce later this year some activities related to the topic.
On this first message of 2018, I must not forget the recent edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, where 92 nations competed and have showcased athletes and spectacular performances. They have inspired millions of people around the globe for sure. Apart from the enthusiasm of the competition the “Legacy” offered by the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to the world was the chance given to peace when North and South Korean athletes paraded together at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Such an unforgettable legacy brought us back to one of the main characteristics of the ancient Pan-Hellenic festivals, peace among all Greek cities: the Olympic Spirit.
Last but not least, I would like to warmly welcome you all to join our General Assembly, which will be organised on the charming island of Gotland in Sweden on 8-10 June 2018. We are putting together a very interesting programme. Besides the traditional EU Seminar, we will have a consultation session on the ENGSO Policy Programme, which will shape ENGSO’s positions on European sport policy for the future. In addition, the Extraordinary General Assembly will be organised to discuss the changes of the Statutes that the Executive Committee proposes. The ENGSO Youth Assembly will take place parallel to these events, and they are only a few to mention.
I wish to see all our members and partners at the 26th General Assembly and I am looking forward to our fruitful discussions.