European grassroots sports movement gathered in Arnhem for the European Sport Platform 2022

The European Sport Platform 2022 gathered the European grassroots sports movement in Arnhem, The Netherlands, for a two-day learning experience on inclusion in sport.

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From 13-15 October 2022, ENGSO members, National Olympic Committees, National Sports Confederations and representatives of the sport movement gathered in Arnhem, The Netherlands, for the 5th edition of ENGSO’s flagship event – the 2022 European Sport Platform (ESP). 

Under the theme of “The Inclusive Paradox”, the 2022 European Sport Platform was hosted by the ENGSO member Dutch Olympic Committee*Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF) in the sports capital of The Netherlands – Arnhem and the Olympic Training Centre Papendal.


The two-day event offered a learning and networking experience with interactive and intergenerational workshops for participants from all over Europe. United through values based sport that strengthens communities, they joined ENGSO and NOC*NSF to improve their work, approaches and strategies in the field of sports for all, learn how the European sport organisations and clubs can approach the marginalised groups such as LGBTQI+ community, people with disabilities or refugees in sport, and exchange experiences about the positive change inclusion of those groups bring to sport federations, communities, cities and nations across Europe.

The European grassroots sport movement redefines the Inclusive Paradox

Stefan Bergh, ENGSO President, officially opened the event on Friday, 14 October 2022, highlighting the urgent need to make the European sport structure inclusive and open to everyone. With his welcoming message, he specifically called upon the sports movement to focus on those left behind: “We must make sure that we offer a sports structure that is inclusive and gives special attention to marginalised people. And this is what we are doing today and tomorrow at the 2022 European Sport Platform”.

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The President’s call for inclusion was followed by Marc van den Tweel, Director of NOC*NSF, and Bob Roelofs, Administrator, City Council of Arnhem, who both joined the event to welcome the European grassroots sport movement and ENGSO members and friends, in the sports capital of The Netherlands, and in the country that aims to be the most fair play, sporty and moving nation.


The agenda to become inclusive and fair demands special attention to be given to those whose lives could be changed through and with sport. That was the message of Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, who emphasised the important role grassroots sport movement plays in Europe, representing the people that play sports because it positively influences their health, well-being and lives in general.

Day one revolved around inclusion in sport, its impact and the challenges it brings

After the official opening of the ESP, moderator of the event Hanan Challouki continued with the introduction of the first session, entitled “Sports4all and the Inclusive Paradox”. Writer and Thinker Kiza Magendane opened the session by sharing an impactful insight into the important role and the positive influence sports federations can have on society. His speech was followed by a presentation from Richard Kaper, Manager Sports Participation at NOC*NSF, on how data intelligence, based on a good practice from The Netherlands, can improve the grassroots sport movement and consequently influence people to live a more active, healthier life.


Conversation on the importance of inclusion between four different experts was the highlight of the first session. Marijke Fleuren, President of European Hockey Federation, Kiza Magendane, Writer and Thinker, Richard Kaper, Manager Sports Participation, at NOC*NSF, and Inge Jansen, Policy advisor for Sport at the Ministry of Health, Well-being and Sport, joined the round table discussion to share their views on the inclusion paradox, and present the work they implement within their organisations to provide inclusion and equal opportunities for all. “Sports4all and the Inclusive Paradox” session finished with Fnaan Woldegiorgis and Jaap Paulsen from Royal Dutch Football Association presenting the positive impact of the “One Love campaign” among the Dutch and European football community.

Inclusion continued to be the highlight topic throughout session two. Florencia Van Houdt, Head of the Unit for Sport at the European Commission, answered “Where does Europe stand for inclusive sports?” and shared the latest updates on policy development and sport funding available (Erasmus+ programme) for the grassroots sport organisations. Okrah Donkor, the founder and CEO of a Youth empowerment organisation Triple ThreaT, followed by telling a personal story of empowerment through sport and what a powerful influence a sport club can have on an entire neighbourhood.


In the afternoon, the European Sport Platform continued with participants attending one of the four parallel sessions.


Moderated by EGLSF Co-President and ENGSO EWS Committee member Sarah Townsend, “LGBTQI+ in sport workshop” welcomed experts that discussed the challenges the community (still) faces in sport. Hugh Torrance, EGLSF Co-President, Anne Schomöller, ENGSO EWS researcher, Sandra Meeuwsen, Philosopher and former (tri)athlete/coach, Beau de Leeuw, project leader, weightlifter and coach, Lou Manders, John Blankenstein Foundation and Project lead from Equal Alliance, discussed the research based approach towards LGBTQI+ inclusive sports.


Workshop two, entitled “New ways of attracting young people in sport”, led by the Jamal el Ghannouti, Project leader District Spots at NOC*NSF and Okrah Donkor, the Founded and CEO of the Triple ThreaT, presented the strategy to engage young people in sport, and make them stay.


Liam McGroarty and Rupert Webster, Strategy Managers from UEFA, shared their knowledge on implementation of the “Social Return on Investment (‘SROI’) way of thinking“ in sport organisations, through workshop three.


Laura Bendix Pederson, Innovation Officer from the NGO GAME, moderated the fourth workshop, entitled “The Power of Youth Involvement” which revolved around creating new solutions that challenge traditional models and approaches within sports through bringing together diversity and innovative minds of youth.


ENGSO member Hellenic Paralympic Committee and its representative Sakis Kostaris, concluded day one with an invitation to Crete, Greece, the hosts of the 2023 ENGSO General Assembly that will include the elections of a new Committee and will be held on 12-13 May 2023.


After insightful day one, participants joined the field visits to the wheelchair basketball club and Lichtenbeek Special School with a special sport program for children with disabilities.

Inspiring day two focused on overcoming the barriers to open new doors and equal access to sport

Through his inspirational speech on accepting disability and creating new opportunities that led him to Paralympics, Rolf Schrama, athlete and diversity officer, opened event’s day two.


Energised by Rolf’s speech, the participants divided into three groups, and joined one of the three morning parallel workshops, all focusing on youth in sport. With an interactive game, ENGSO Youth championed human rights through sport during the first workshop which gathered participants of all ages and backgrounds. Leading the second workshop, Linda Jacobsen from Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF) presented the strategy Norwegian NOC is using to engage young people in sport. Through the third workshop, Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial and Prof. Dr. Nicolette Schipper van Veldhoven shared their knowledge and experience on the iCoachKids programme and the impact it has on children and young people.

The last session of the European Sport Platform 2022, led by ENGSO Equality Within Sport Committee Chair Sallie Barker, revolved around the topic of Equality in Sport. Hristina Hristova, Communication Officer from EUSA, explained the objectives and aims of the project iSport that works towards ensuring inclusion in sport, while Jennifer Browning, ENGSO EWS Committee member and International Relations Advisor at UK Sport, shared her own sports journey that led her to Paralympics, and the lessons she learnt on the way that she now uses to provide people with disabilities equal opportunities to become part of the sports movement

Next destination: Portugal

The closing act of the European Sport Platform 2022 included Carlos Cardoso, ENGSO Honorary President and the President of the Sports Confederation of Portugal, inviting the European grassroots community to the 6th edition of the European Sport Platform which will take place on 13-14 October 2023 in Lisbon. The invitation to Portugal, was followed by ENGSO President Stefan Bergh who concluded the impactful and inspiring 2022 edition of the European Sport Platform by thanking the participants for their engagement and valuable contribution they brought to the event, agreeing that this year’s ESP was simply excellent.

Still under the impression of the 2022 edition, we hope to meet again in 2023 for the sixth European Sport Platform.

We would like to express special gratitude to the hosts, ENGSO member Dutch Olympic Committee*Dutch Sports Federation for a warm welcome and a wonderful event that inspired sport federations and organisations, and individuals to act on inclusion and improve equal opportunities in and through sport in Europe and beyond.

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Thank you to our members, friends and partners who joined us for the three days of inspiring and educational speeches, workshops and discussions.