On April 8 and 9, the EU Sport Forum was hosted in Bucharest by the European Commission in collaboration with the Romanian presidency. The EU Sport Forum in Romania’s capital city was attended by 350 participants – the biggest number ever – and ENAS was represented by former ENAS President Michelle Tanner, ENAS officer Margo de Lange, ENAS EC member Ramune Zilinskiene and ENAS treasurer Henri ten Klooster. Afterwards, we caight up with Michelle Tanner and Henri ten Klooster to get some of their insights on the forum.

ENAS: What was the event about?

Klooster: Trough-out the first day a number of different discussions were held and also plenary sessions on doping in sport, whether or not Europe can still attract major sports events and the role of sport federations in the promotion of European sport. There was also an interesting session on the contribution of schools to the promotion of healthy lifestyles. For me the most interesting topic of the second day of the Forum was a session about how grassroots sport should be financed. After sessions about justice in sport and challenges of less popular sports, a plenary session followed on how Europeans will engage in sport in the future. Before the Forum was officially closed, the EU Head of Sport Unit DG EAC, European Commission concluded the Forum with some last remarks.

Tanner: The audience of almost 500 participants from a plethora of European sporting organisations, stakeholders and expert speakers, made for many interesting discussions and social, cultural and business interactions. From a university sport perspective some of the take home learnings from the plenary and panel sessions, included the following;

  • The issue of doping in sport is still a massive challenge. The University sports sector has an opportunity to educate and create awareness around doping and other corruption issues in sport and to promote the values that we hold so dearly. We may not be able to influence the outcome of some serious consequences and complex legalities in sport, but we can create a culture of zero tolerance by teaching the values to our student and community cohorts.
  • In terms of healthy lifestyle, the schools system is passing the baton to the third level sector. If its not delivered right a primary and second levels, we inherit the challenges. It is therefore our responsibility to engage with the schools to embrace and support healthy living and best practices and to make the journey to third level smoother. We need to debate the issue of when does sport become a health issue and vice versa, and find our impactful role in this space. The Tartu Call for Healthy Lifestyle is a good starting ground adopted by the EU Sport Commission, read it HERE
  • The role of federations in promotion of European sport- this one was particularly interesting from our perspective as the big European sporting organisations are under threat from the evolution of private sporting events and leagues and it was felt there is a need to protect the culture of sport in European. It was mentioned that the Universities need to take a more scientific and innovative role in educating coaches, sports managers and leaders of the future.
  • The final highlight for me, was actually hosting the final expert panel session on the Future of European Sport. With panellist from Europe Active, SAP (digital sport tech), German Olympic Federation, Denmark Olympic Federation and the European Olympics Committees, we discussed sport digital technologies, e-sports, trends in practising sport and exercise, changing demographics and an ageing population and increasing inactivity and health issues. The stark reality of an ageing European population and ever demanding digital tech savvy youth population the challenge for our University sports future is to be ready now. Are you ready to look at new ways of engaging people in inclusive physical activities and using innovative digital technologies? If you are not already being innovative in the way you engage young people in sport and physical activity, then folks pull a chair and watch life pass you by, because you are only now but a spectator!! Some useful reminders;
    • Those who never exercise or play sport has slightly increased from 42% in 2014 to 46% in 2019 Europe-wide, increasing steadily since 2009.
    • The e-sport (as opposed to egames) economy is set to double in size by 2022.
    • The growing ageing population is set to double to €2.1bn by the year 2050.

ENAS: What is useful for ENAS to attend the event? Why? What where the outcomes of the event and in what way do the outcomes of the event affect University Sport?

Klooster: Although the term University Sport was not mentioned once, the Forum presented the perfect opportunity for ENAS to network, strengthen partnerships with established partners, as well as establish contacts with potential new partners.

ENAS: Any advice that can benefit ENAS members from what you learned form this event?

Klooster: You should expect to be given ‘overall information’ and use the Forum to mostly network.

Tanner: An insightful read on the future of sport by ASOIF is here https://www.asoif.com/news/asoif-launches-report-future-global-sport
Finally, I would recommend if it’s not possible to physically attend the next EU Sports Forum that you tune into the sessions, which are recorded live and streamed, at your convenience. Information and resources on the recent Forum can be viewed here https://ec.europa.eu/sport/content/eu-sport-forum-2019_en

ENAS: Was there a remarkable quote? Did something funny happen? Was there a big discussion on a certain topic you did not expect?

Klooster: I attend  a pub quiz with some friends every two weeks. The week before I went to Rumania there was a question how many time Sergii Bubka broke the world record pole vauting (36). A week later, I happened to be drinking coffee at the same table as Sergii, who was attending as on behalf of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine.

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