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Published in Sports Management 2015 issue 2

European Games are here - but what will it mean for sport?

John Goodbody
John Goodbody
John Goodbody,

Journalist,

Sunday Times


You may not have realised it, but the first European Games are being held in Baku, Azerbaijan in June and Team GB will be one of 47 countries taking part. One reason why the event might not have impinged on your consciousness is that in many of the sports, the standard is not high. It’s true that several world governing bodies are using the Games as a qualifying competition for the 2016 Olympics. In judo, the European Championships will be staged as part of the Games after the competition was switched from Glasgow in a row over sponsorship.

The athletics event, however, will be the third league of the European Team Championships, thereby not featuring most of the continent’s most celebrated names while the swimming will consist of the European Junior Championships.

Why then have a European Games in what is already a crowded calendar?

The answer is that most of the other continents have had their own quadrennial games for many years, the Pan American and the Asian, for example, since 1951. The reason why there haven’t been multi-sport European Games is that most Olympic sports have had their own individual championships for many years, athletics since 1934 and swimming since 1926.

The European Games are the brain child of Patrick Hickey – the Irish president of the European Olympic Committees – and have been backed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and bankrolled by Azerbaijan, which is using the event to promote itself as a destination.

The British Olympic Association sees the event as an opportunity for athletes and officials to familiarise themselves with the demands of a multi-sport event and as a rehearsal for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Mark England, chef de mission of the British team, says: “This is an opportunity to be part of a wonderful celebration of sport and to be on the cusp of a new era.”

Already there are plans for a second European Games to be held in 2019. The significance of that event has already been complicated by the fact that, in 2018, several sports – swimming, rowing, cycling and triathlon – are planning to hold their European Championships together in Glasgow, while the athletics championships will be held at the same time in Berlin.

It may seem sensible to have several European championships in different sports at the same venue and the same time but, unless there is careful scheduling, it would restrict the television audiences to the detriment of the sports themselves. TV companies like to have these events held at different times and not clashing with popular continental events, such as the Wimbledon Championships, the Tour de France and the European Champions League.

So where does the proposed 2019 European Games fit into all this? No one really seems to know and that includes Sven-Arne Hansen, the president of the European Athletics Association, who is eager to talk to Hickey about the part that his sport, the central one of the Olympic programme, will play in any future Games.

There needs to be some serious talking about the confusion that is currently confronting European sports and their programmes in the immediate future. For athletics it may well be that the European Team Championship, encompassing the leading nations, could be part of future European Games but other continental organisations will have to look carefully at how they can benefit from their future participation.

As Andre Bolhuis, the President of the Dutch Olympic Committee, said in considering whether his country could host the 2019 Games: ”We want guarantees from international federations that it’ll be an elite event.”

• To read more about Baku and the Games, see p. 38.

The inaugural European Games have the backing of the International Olympic Committee and will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan
The inaugural European Games have the backing of the International Olympic Committee and will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan

New government - new challenges (and a few old ones)

Emma Boggis
Emma Boggis
Emma Boggis,

CEO,

Sports and Recreation Alliance (SRA)


In the run up to the election we at the Sport and Recreation Alliance highlighted the benefits the sector has to offer the physical, social and economic health of the nation. Our Minister’s To-Do List – a five-step plan for a more active population – offers a concise, easily understandable programme for government and the sector which, if implemented fully, would remove many of the obstacles to the sport and recreation sector realising its full potential.

Putting the list together is the straightforward part – the most challenging is putting it into action. With a collection of asks ranging from issues on school sport and tax through to elite funding, there needs to be collaboration and a collective will to get to where we want. 

The SRA is firmly committed to making the collaboration happen. By taking the pulse of the sector and tapping into the knowledge of our members, we can inform ministers on key issues and facilitate discussions.

The sport and recreation sector can be a powerful tool for change. From delivering economic growth to securing the future of the health system, our members and the activities they represent can help the new government make real progress. Our To-Do List will tell them how.

The five key proposals are:
1. Support sport and recreation through a fair and sustainable CASC system.
2. Increased investment in Initial Teacher Training to ensure high quality PE.
3. Every local authority to produce a strategy for sport.
4. Major events legislation to ensure the UK remains home of world-class sport.
5. Appoint a dedicated minister for the outdoors.

The SRA’s to-do list calls for each local authority to produce a strategy for sport / www.shutterstock.com
The SRA’s to-do list calls for each local authority to produce a strategy for sport/ www.shutterstock.com

Tara Dillon,

CEO,

CIMSPA (The Chartered Institute of Sport & Physical Activity)

Tara Dillon
Tara Dillon

For years, employers have talked about taking greater responsibility for learning and development in the sports and physical activity sector. Well, for the first time in my 28-year career, it’s happening.

Employers have called for a unified outlook on skills and for one body to be responsible for workforce development in the sector. CIMSPA has responded to this call to action.

We’ve committed to the development of a single skills structure, led by employers, and have pledged to embed these three guiding principles:

The custodianship of standards and the framework for skills to sit within one body; a continuum of training provision across further education and higher education; a minimum standard for assessment and delivery protocols across all qualifications within the sector.

We’re now working with ukactive and SkillsActive, our fellow organisations responsible for the industry’s training and development, to set a timeframe for delivering this change in workforce development. It’s a massive piece of work and marks a truly significant transition for our sector. Finally, employers will own and manage the training and development of their workforce. They will be responsible for establishing the skills and competencies required by all staff, from entry level to senior management, to ensure they are appropriately skilled to meet the needs of the sector and to combat the inactivity epidemic.

A similar process is currently underway with the Trailblazer project, where a coalition of leisure employers is developing standards for leisure management and personal training apprenticeships. Trailblazer has whet employers’ appetites to dramatically improve the physical activity sector’s workforce development.

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