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EU announces plans to get us off our couches with a European Week of Sport

Posted by Nick Prag at 12 June 2014, 19:05 CET |
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On the eve of the Brazil World Cup, the EU's Sports Commissioner Androulla Vassilio announced plans for the first European Week of Sport, to take place in September 2015. The aim of the event is to promote exercise and sport at all levels.

Almost 60% of European Union citizens never or seldom exercise or play sport, according to this April's Eurobarometer survey on sport and physical activity.

The survey shows that an increasing number of Europeans never exercise or play sport (42% today compared to 39% four years ago). A staggering 30% never do any physical activities at all. And these figures are the EU average: the situation in southern or eastern Europe is worse than in northern Europe.

The survey also pointed to the need for local authorities in particular to do more to encourage citizens to be physically active. While 74% of respondents believe that local sport clubs and other providers provide sufficient opportunities for this, 39% think their local authorities are not doing enough.

With this in mind, the idea of promoting health and well-being through sport and physical activity through a European Week of Sport has to be welcome.

Funding for the Week is expected to come from Erasmus+, Europe's new programme for education, training, youth and sport. The Commission hopes to fund each Member State with a grant of EUR 80,000 to help support the organisation of at least one national event and coordinate grass-roots activities.

The EC will coordinate events and activities throughout Europe during the Week. Organisations which sign up to its objectives will receive guidance and a European Week of Sport label.

The Week of Sport will build on existing campaigns and events, and not try to reinvent the wheel. Partnerships with and between organisations that can implement activities on the ground will be encouraged and supported. And national awareness-raising activities will be encouraged.

Commissioner Vassiliou underlined the need for EU Member States to fully involve regional and local stakeholders in the organisation of the events.

"This is vital to the success of the European Week of Sport," she said. "Our aim is for a great Europe-wide experience which will help people change their lifestyles, while having fun at the same time."

It is good that Sport Week is not intended only for the 'sporting youth'. It intends to address everybody: young people, women as much as men, older generations as well as youth, people with disabilities, socially disadvantaged groups and everyone else.

A lot of planning and organisation will now be set in motion.

Hopefully this can have a lasting impact in raising awareness of the value of sport and physical activity for health and well-being.

If it encourages us to to get off our couches and to move, it will be a good thing.

After the World Cup..

Sport and the EU

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.