#ESP2020: different format, same intensity

This year, the European Sport Platform was organised, for the first time, as an online meeting. Hosted by the Lithuanian Sports University on 13 November 2020, #ESP2020 gathered a good number of sports leaders, volunteers, scholars and students to discuss two current sports topics: equality and safeguarding.


In the beginning of the event, our President, Stefan Bergh held an introductory speech and later on, some other prominent speakers greeted the participants. Guglielmo di Cola, member of the cabinet of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said some welcoming words, emphasising that sport is high on the Commissioner’s agenda. The rector of the Lithuanian Sports University, Prof. Dr. Diana Reklaitiene, wished fruitful discussions to everybody. Finally, Arjan van ‘t Veer, Secretary General of the European Lotteries, another event partner, said some welcoming words.


A27d24 2c5ddd8c0b3c45448da2240bf0e50cc1 Mv2


Welcome speeches were delivered by our President, Stefan Bergh; Member of the cabinet of Mariya Gabriel, Guglielmo di Cola; the Rector of the Lithuanian Sports University, Prof. Dr. Diana Reklaitiene and the Secretary General of the European Lotteries, Arjan van ‘t Veer.


Over 120 participants registered for the #ESP2020, which shows how relevant the event topics are for current and future sports professionals working for the promotion of grassroots sport in Europe. The first session was titled “Equality within sport – from policy to practice”, moderated by Niina Toroi, Chair of the ENGSO Equality Within Sport (EWS) Committee. After a brief presentation by Ms Toroi about the work of EWS, Lisa Wainwright took the floor to hold her keynote speech. Ms Wainwright, CEO of our member, the Sport and Recreation Alliance made some highly important points in the topic of equality. “Share your difference and embrace your difference, when talking about equality”, she stated as the main message of her presentation. Following her engaging speech, the participants got the chance to listen to two good practice examples in the topic of equality. Firstly, Anja Veum and Hanne Sogn talked about the reasons behind the lack of female leaders in Norwegian sport and how a research project tackles the situation.


8ade9a 119319ecc89b4db3b68125ef4179da5a Mv2


Anja Veum and Hanne Sogn talked about the reasons behind the lack of female leaders in Norwegian sport.


They were followed by the presentation of our Vice-President, Agne Vanagiene, about the #HeForShe campaign in Lithuania. At the end of Ms Vanagiene’s presentation, the participants watched a touching video about a Lithuanian basketball couple who talked about sharing household duties, while carrying on with their careers. After the thought-provoking presentations, the participants were divided into groups to discuss the topic of equality further. One of the key conclusions of these discussions was that accessible and implementable research is of utmost importance, because research and practice should go hand-in-hand when working towards equality.


After two hours of intense work, a one-hour lunch break was scheduled.


In the afternoon, the programme continued with the second session, titled “Respect! Sport against violence and bullying”. The session’s moderator was ENGSO’s newly elected Secretary General, Sara Massini. ENGSO Youth’s Chair, Ugne Chmeliauskaite gave an insightful introductory presentation to the topic, talking about ENGSO Youth’s position paper on safeguarding children and youth in sport. Her speech was followed by a highly interesting keynote speech by Tine Vertommen, Criminologist and Researcher at the University of Antwerp on effective interventions to safeguard children in sport. Among other very useful pieces of information, Ms Vertommen pointed towards a mapping study on safeguarding children in sport, published in 2019 by the European Commission. Her lecture was followed by two research presentations. The first one was delivered by Prof. Antonino Bianco about the SAVE (Sport Against Violence and Exclusion) project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme.

8ade9a 25bd19fb86e3415fabec26ac013c3c01 Mv2

Prof. Antonino Bianco presented the Erasmus+ Sport co-funded SAVE project


The second presentation was held by Prof. Dr. Vilija Bite Fominiene about bullying in organised youth sports. The last speaker of the session was Tobias Staebler from Special Olympics Europe Eurasia who presented Special Olympics’ fascinating Unified Sports® concept. After listening to the speakers, it was time to discuss the topic further in smaller groups where participants exchanged ideas on ways to fight bullying effectively. After that Ms Massini wrapped up the session, it was time for our President, Stefan Bergh to close the #ESP2020. He expressed his gratitude to the team behind organising this year’s event despite the challenging times we currently live in, and also thanked our event partners for their support throughout the planning phase and during the event itself.


The 2020 #ESP2020 was hosted by the Lithuanian Sports University, in collaboration with the Lithuanian Union of Sports Federations, and organised in partnership with the European Lotteries. We thank all our partners for making the third edition of the European Sport Platform a memorable experience for everyone. And we also thank the over 120 registered participants for their active presence. We hope to see everyone in person in 2021 at the fourth European Sport Platform, to be organised Vilnius, Lithuania!