European countries debate benefits of sport for democracy

Practical ideas on how to involve young people in sport was the focus during the Council of Europe’s ‘European Crossroads: Sport – Front Door to Democracy’ conference on 13-14 May.

Background

"Clubs and federations are part and parcel of democracy - if used properly sport is a good school for democracy," said Jaime Andreu, Head of the Sports Unit at DG Education and Culture during a two-day conference, called 'European Crossroads: Sport - Front Door to Democracy', in Strasbourg. The conference comes against the backdrop of the European Year of Education through Sports (see

ELinksDossier on EYES). 

"Both the Council of Europe and the EU want to get people away from the computer and the TV to stop them from being isolated so that they interact more with their neighbours and friends. Sport is an opportunity to learn about social behaviour - about nurturing individual and collective talent. As such sport can act as a facilitator, helping to bring together different cultures in the newly enlarged EU of 25 Member States," added Jaime Andreu.

The conference, which was attended by over 45 countries from all over Europe, was co-financed by the Commission in the framework of the European Year of Education through Sport. Other organisers were the Council of Europe, the European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation (ENGSO), the European Olympic Committees and the Sports Office of the City of Strasbourg. Pedro Berjano de Oliveira, General Director of the Portuguese Sports Confederation, told EURACTIV that: "I was impressed by the practical and thorough nature of the discussions and with ENGSO for the important role it played in the event." Key issues included debate on:

  • how to include young people in the decision-making process in sports organisations
  • how to motivate and recruit young people into sport leadership
  • how to prevent young people from dropping out of sports clubs

The Council of Europe adopted a text on the idea of the right to sport for all in Bruges in January 1968. The thinking was to put into practice an approach to sport that went beyond the Olympics and other high-level competition and that would reach all parts of society. The Council of Europe covers a broad range of sports-related issues from fair play in sport to action against violence at sports events to the design of sports grounds.

 

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