European Year of Education through Sport (archived)

The aim of the European Year of Education through Sport (EYES) 2004 was to raise awareness about the potentially beneficial links between education and sport.

Every year the EU has a special year dedicated to a particular issue. 2004 was the European Year of Education through Sport. 

EYES 2004 projects were designed to promote the positive values of sport within the context of amateur activities. However, links were developed between EYES and international championships such as the Ice Hockey World Championships, the Paralympics and the Olympic Games in Athens and the EURO 2004 Football Championships in Portugal. The countries eligible for funding under EYES were the EU-25 plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. 

According to a September 2003 Eurobarometer survey, 46% of those polled in EU-15 say that they practise a sport or take some form of exercise at least once a week. 68% of the polled felt that the EU should be more active in promoting education through sport and three quarters felt that more time should be devoted to sport at school and nearly 80% would like to see closer links between the education systems and sports organisations in their country.

A number of high profile sports stars - Olympic champions, world champions and European champions with more than 30 gold medals between them - from across the Union were part of the 'EYES all star team' helping to promote the initiative and encourage strong links between the worlds of sport and culture. 

The core aim of EYES was to raise awareness in the European countries participating in the initiative of the different aspects of sport (competition, promoting a healthy lifestyle and socialising) and the positive values associated with sport (eg. tolerance, team spirit, fair play, strength of character). It aimed to raise awareness about the links between education and sport - promoting links between educational institutions and sports organisations, the social inclusion of disadvantaged persons, multiculturalism, voluntary activities and pupil mobility.

One of the main issues was whether or not EYES would be considered a success or a failure and how this would be measured. Its relative success or failure was sure to have a major impact on how the EU is involved in EU sports policy in the future.

Co-ordination of EYES projects was handled by the Commission's Sport unit (DG Education and Culture) along with national co-ordinating bodies. The Commission initially had a total budget of €11.5 million (ending up as €12.3 million) of which around half was earmarked for sports and education programmes. For these programmes, the Commission organised bids into three rounds. The projects were led by a particular country, had a specific set of aims and were classified as Community-wide measures or measures of Community interest (be that on a local, regional, national or transnational level). 

An independent assessment of the year
, produced in June 2005 by the consultancy EUREVAL-C3E, a European network of academic experts and the international market and opinion survey group TNS Sofres, said that that the establishment of networks between educational institutions and sports organisations is certainly "the greatest achievement" of EYES, with ongoing links beyond EYES planned for 95% of partnerships. It recommends that a European network of educational institutions, sporting organisations and public authorities be established.

It adds that it was a real success for the EYES that applications for 1,643 partnership projects were submitted in response to the calls for proposals. Co-financing could be provided for 161 of these projects (including ten “Community” projects, i.e. projects with participants from more than eight European countries).

However it says that better links with other Community policies such as combating obesity or the integration of persons with disabilities could perhaps have been established. It recommends conferences and working groups where the world of sport and the member states can debate sport's role in the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups.

In December 2005, the Commission proposed to build on the achievements of the EYES 2004 by:

  • increasing the knowledge at EU level of the place of sport and physical activity in education 
  • raising awareness of the importance of physical activity in reversing obesity trends 
  • raising awareness of the mutual benefits of closer co-operation for the worlds of education and sport
  • stepping up the dialogue and co-operation with the sport movement on issues like: volunteering, participation in sport notably for women, the fight against racism and xenophobia, education and protection of young athletes, etc.
  • making better use of the possibilities offered by EU programmes to support initiatives related to sport
  • improving recognition of qualifications and facilitating mobility in sport-related professions 


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