The two-day international high-level conference “Sport, education, university: joining efforts for athletes´ dual career and active societies” begins today, 21 September, in Tartu. The conference focuses on the dual career of athletes in education and, as a binary topic, will raise the wider issue of physical activity. The conference participants include EU policy makers, representatives from international sports organisations, athletes and representatives from the field of education. Conference participants will be greeted the Minister of Culture, Indrek Saar.
The dual career of athletes has been a current topic in the European Union and in national Olympic movements for years. Within the framework of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the conference in Tartu will bring many of the best experts in the field to Estonia, including Claudia Bokel, former fencing champion, 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 key note addresses 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 give the participants the opportunity to elaborate on the role of education in an athlete’s career and the role of sports in shaping future leaders.
Minister of Culture Indrek Saar explained that acquiring an education during a sports career provides better opportunities for finding work in a desired area after retiring from professional sports. “Every athlete’s career ends at some point, and it is important to prepare for life after professional sports. The state, sports organisations and educational institutions can join in offering our athletes solutions for how to simultaneously be successful in sports and obtain an education as well. Creating opportunities for a dual career is an area in which we have a chance to learn from the experiences of other countries,” added Saar.
One of the key note speakers of the conference, Olympic champion Gerd Kanter added that when it comes to athletes’ attitudes towards sports, there are two kinds of opinions: some believe that studying during training can be distracting and divert attention, while others feel that studies and sports can be combined and that studying can benefit sports. “Speaking from my own experience, I am a firm supporter of the latter, because I obtained a higher education while doing sports.” Kanter added that doing sports and studying at the same time might not be suitable for everyone and that there are many different options. “At the EOC athlete’s commission, we have also discussed dual career opportunities, including a more flexible relationship between athletes and universities. Our studies have shown that for many athletes the problems they face specifically include concerns about the future, meaning life after sports, and those concerns are of a high priority. Coming together and seeking an approach that would be more flexible and less stressful would be a great contribution to sports,” emphasised Kanter.
The second topic of the conference in Tartu is sports and physical activity. From the point of view of health, development and wellbeing, physical activity is very important, however, societal developments have led to decreasing activity among the population. According to research conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), one third of adults in Europe are not physically active enough and as much as 70% of young people do not reach the physical activity recommendations set by WHO. The conference will feature a discussion focused on the cost of physical inactivity for the society and what could be done in schools to increase young people’s physical activity levels.
The conference, held within the framework of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is also dedicated to the UNESCO International Day of University Sport, held on 20 September, and to the official launch of the III European Week of Sport at the Tähtvere sports park in Tartu on 23 September.
The conference can be followed live via webstream HERE.
Communications Coordinator for the Estonian Presidency of the Council of EU 2017 | Ministry of Culture