The events of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will continue in Estonia between 20 and 23 September in Tartu. An international conference ‘Sport, Education and University: Combining forces in the Name of Athletes’ Dual Careers and an Active Society’ will be held on September 21 and 22. The conference is dedicated to the opening of the Third European Week of Sport on September 23, and the celebration of the UNESCO International Day of University Sport on September 20. The main themes of the conference are athletes’ dual careers as well as sport and physical activity. And as is appropriate for a university city, these topics will be discussed in the context of education and universities. The topics at the conference will be developed further by Kairis Ulp, the chair of the Estonian Presidency Sport Working Group at the Ministry of Culture.
After graduating from secondary school, young people continue their educations in schools of higher learning, serve in the military, and find jobs. Athletes do the same. By that time, very few of them have achieved results that would allow them to totally dedicate themselves to sport. For athletes, their studies fulfil two objectives: to help them acquire the knowledge they will subsequently need to find jobs in their chosen field, and to relieve the stress associated with being a top athlete. At the same time, combining these activities is not easy, because athletes that are in their prime as far as athletic achievements must divide their already limited resources – time, energy and tangible resources – between two important activities. The study on the TASS double career system that has operated in England for more than ten years showed that without a support system one-third of the athletes would end their sports careers.
The subject of athletes’ dual careers has been a topical issue in the European Union and international Olympic movement for several years. Several of the best experts in this field will come to Estonia for this conference in Tartu, headed up by Claudia Bokel, Vice-President of the Adecco Group’s IOC and IPC athletes’ programme and former chairman of the IOC Athletes’ Commission; Guy Taylor, director of England’s TASS dual career system; and Agata Dziarnowska, an official with the EU Sport Policy and Programme Unit. The presentations by Gerd Kanter, Olympic winner and chairman of the Athletes’ Commission of the Estonian Olympic Committee, and Oleg Matytsin, President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) will provide the attendees with the opportunity to contemplate the position of education in athletes’ careers and how sport can help to develop future leaders. Before the conference, Guy Taylor, one of the leading dual career experts in Europe, will conduct a seminar in Tartu about how to build a dual career system at the global level and who could benefit from it.
The second theme at the Tartu conference is sport and physical activity. Physical activity is extremely important from the viewpoint of health, development and wellbeing, but societal development has resulted in a reduction of people’s physical activity. According to studies by the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost one-third of European adults are not sufficiently active; and about 70% of young people do not comply with WHO recommendations. At the conference, the cost of physical inactivity for society will be discussed, as well as what can be done to increase the physical activity of young people with the help of research-based intervention programmes. If physical education is often a part of the curriculum in general education schools, this is often not true in higher education institutions. To a great extent, the sporting conditions depend on the priorities and facilities of the universities, and many young people lose their contact with sport while at university. A discussion will be conducted about why higher education institutions should organise activities related to sport and physical activity, and a presentation will be made of the recommended guidelines developed by our northern neighbours the Finns for their schools of higher learning.
After the conference, on September 22nd from 15:00 to 17:30, a public European Commission seminar on the topic “A Healthy Lifestyle” will be held at the Estonian National Museum. The seminar will be chaired by Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. For more about the conference, see the Ministry of Culture and EU2017.EE websites.