Discussing the future of grassroots sport at ENGSO Hearing: skills will be essential!

Discussing the future of grassroots sport at ENGSO Hearing: skills will be essential!

On the 6th of September 2016, a week ahead of the European Week of Sport, EOSE took part in the European Parliament to an event entitled “The Way Forward for Grassroots Sport in Europe”.

Organised by ENGSO, supported by the European Lotteries and hosted by MEP Hannu Takkula, this hearing gathered  about 40 people from various background including  high-level stakeholders from EU institutions, the Council of Europe and the sport movement.

The aim of the hearing was to ensure that the Recommendations from the High Level Group on Grassroots sport ended over to Commissioner Navracsics on 29 June 2016 would be put into practice.


The event was therefore made to:

  • Present the recommendations to a wider audience
  • Discuss their implementation
  • Hear the view of the European Parliament on the topic. In particular the European Parliament’s upcoming Own-initiative Report on an integrated approach to sport policy was presented by MEP Hannu Takkula.

This timely hearing provided opportunities for participants to think about the High Level Group’s Recommendations on grassroots sport as a knowledge-based policy-making, in which the sport stakeholders have to make a convincing case.

In their opening words, representative of the EU, MEP Hannu Takkula and Jens Nymand Christensen (DG EAC Deputy Director General) put emphasis on two main areas of focus:

  1. Improving health should be the core target of any sport policy in the EU – MEP
  2. Developing sport as a soft policy tool is more important than ever (ie bringing people and societies together) – EC

Carlos Cardoso, President of ENGSO then presented the Recommendations of the HLG on Grassroots Sport.

Following his presentation, Hannu Takkula introduced the European Parliament initiative Report on sport. His main points could be summarize as such:

-          WHY an INI Report? Because the EP has some competence on sport and therefore should take this opportunity to have its say + the time has come as the European Commission will evaluate the sport policy in 2017 and therefore with this INI Report the European Parliament is taking the chance to provide a political input

-          WHEN? The report first draft is to be translated next week. It will be voted in the CULT Committed in Nov 2016 and should be adopted in Plenary Session in Dec or January.

-          WHAT? First findings includes notes on integrity, good governance and accessibility.


The Panel Debate then gathered 4 speakers: Jens Nymand Christensen, European Commission DG EAC Deputy Director General, MEP Virginie Rozière (S&D, France), Helena Carlsson, ENGSO Secretary General and Sir Graham Watson, EuropeActive Chair /Co-Chair of High Level Group Grassroots Sport.

The main points raised by each of them were as followed:

-          Jens Nymand Christensen, European Commission DG EAC Deputy Director General:

  • Main work today is to mainstream grassroots sport and drive it out of the DG EAC in particular when thinking of city regeneration and urban planning policies.
  • We do not want a totally new Agenda as we are planning the next Work Plan but rather are we willing to be ready to make changes that deliver results
  • Discussion are on going with Eurostat to be able to get “sport insight”.


-          MEP Virginie Rozière (S&D, France):

  • The EP is limited by the EU competence but advocating for the role of grassroots sport and in  particular its social dimension (deeply linked with the European added value)
  • Very much concern about the training of the sport educators
  • Be careful to make grassroots sport stands for its own and do not focus too much on economic impact but also on its indirect benefits.
  • If you want to unlock all the benefits you need to have well equipped staff able to give access to all as well as national programme.


-          Helena Carlsson, ENGSO Secretary General:

  • The future of clubs and recommendations of the HLG is a million dollar question.
  • Urgent changes are needed in the Erasmus+ Sport Chapter to make it more accessible for grassroots sport.


-          Sir Graham Watson, EuropeActive Chair /Co-Chair of High Level Group Grassroots Sport:

  • The kind of things the grassroots sport need to build upon for its advocacy is the figures and the economic impact
  • The sector needs to get a focus on skills development and train employees as well as a consistent labour market analysis (to know how many employees)


Last but not least, Torjjorn Almlid, Chairman of the European Lotteries Sport Committee, showcased the work lead by EL and its members. In particular, he said that lotteries –through their Work Programme or Fund devoted to Sport- are interested in addressing Employment Opportunities and Skills Development. He also introduced some good practices of initiatives in Social Inclusion and Empowerment in and through Sport and in particular one led by ONCE in Spain.


EOSE was represented by Carole Ponchon, European PR and Project manager, who brought back the idea developed as part of the debate that countries shall understand that challenges in policy terms are similar (unemployment, inactivity, lack of solidarity, etc) that is why cross-border exchange is needed. She was also delighted to hear from many speakers a special and relatively new emphasis on skills development.



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