European Sport Platform 2023 and Equality in sport conference address the role of grassroots sport in strengthening communities

Lisbon, Portugal, 12-14 October 2023

“Sport has the power to unite, connect and strengthen communities” was a common message throughout the sixth edition of ENGSO’s flagship event European Sport Platform and Equality in sport conference. 


The event took place on 12-14 October 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, organised by ENGSO and hosted by  Sports Confederation of Portugal. The main theme of the event was strengthening sport for stronger communities. 


More than 100 representatives of European, national and local sport organisations joined the event with the aim to exchange experience and strengthen grassroots sport in their countries. 


A three-day event began with an Equality in sport conference on 12 October 2023,, continued with a programme that covered EU policy, good governance, sustainability and youth health, and concluded on 14 October 2023, with a high level meeting between ENGSO and National Olympic Committees from Balkan.

ENGSO Executive Committee, ENGSO EWS Committee, Sports as Value, EQUIP and ENGSO Youth meetings also took place on the occassion of the event. 

Engso Esp 2023

Equality in sport

The event began on Thursday, 12 October, with the Equality in sport conference, initiating the final stage of a three-year project EQUIP. Through three educational sessions – Walk of privilege, Human Library and Call to Action, ENGSO EWS Committee,  ENGSO members and partner organisations, led by ENGSO Equality and Project Officer Floriane Poncet-Rief, presented the strategies and good practices on how to implement equality in sport organisations, at local, national and international level. All resources and research on equality can be found here.

The role of grassroots sport in uncertain times

Stefan Bergh, ENGSO President, opened the European Sport Platform on Friday, 13 October 2023, highlighting the important role grassroots sport plays in current uncertain times: “In those unstable times, sport has never been more important. Sport, particularly grassroots sport, has the power to unite, connect and strengthen communities.”


Because the sixth edition of the European Sport Platform was held in Lisbon, Portugal, we had the honour to hear welcoming words from the President of President of Sports Confederation of Portugal and ENGSO Honorary President Carlos Cardoso who emphasised the importance of support for sport clubs which have been struggling since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. ENGSO Vice President Filipa Godinho added that despite the challenging times, sport with its power to unite diverse communities will win. 


Silvia Vermelho, Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, and Ângelo Pereira, Councillor for Sport from Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, welcomed the participants to Lisbon, quickly presented the sport movement in Portugal and highlighted the educational role of sport in strengthening communities. 

Policy: ENGSO shares its position on the next EU Work Plan on Sport

The programme began with an informational session on values and policy in sport, and a presentation of ENGSO position paper on the next EU Work Plan on Sport. Moderated by Sara Massini, ENGSO Secretary General, and Theo Neyenhuis, ENGSO EU Advisory Committee Chair, the session offered insight into the document that proposes concrete actions and steps forward to improve the position of grassroots sport in Europe. The participants had the opportunity  to discuss and comment on the proposed action. 


Oliver Smith, Deputy Head of Sport Unit, European Commission connected with us virtually and explained the EU strategy on sport and funding opportunities available for sport organisations and clubs.

Sustainability: what is the connection between sport and sustainability?

The question was answered by Bianca Quadrokus, German Olympic Sports Confederation’s (DOSB) Officer for Sport facilities, Environment and Sustainability, who explained how sport assumes social responsibility and can support sustainable development. She also presented the tools, projects and sustainability strategy of DOSB. 


The topic of sustainability continued with a  workshop led by Karin Book, senior lecturer in sport science at the Department of Sport Sciences at Malmö University and Jeffrey Levine, assistant clinical professor of Sport Business at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. The session introduced the basis of sustainable development, showcased the good practices from the United States and offered insights teaching into sustainable sport management. 


Day two concluded with knowledge, tools and resources exchange during the parallel sessions on topic of all three dimensions of sustainability: 


– Economical, led by Geert Hendriks, Chief Engagement Officer The SHIFT and Founding Director Sport and Sustainability International,

– Social, facilitated by Tarja Krum, Sustainability manager at Finlands Svenska Idrott & ENGSO EWS Vice Chair and Louis Moustakas, Researcher and Lecturer at German Sport University,

– Environmental, presented by Carole Ponchon, Green Sports Hub Europe project manager and Lawrie McLaren, Senior Managing Director at BCW Brussels.

Good governance: trust, investment, dialogue and responsibility

“From control to trust, reward to investment, bureaucracy to dialogue, requirements to responsibility,” started Poul Broberg, director of the department of Public Affairs in the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) who opened day three of the event with a session on good governance in sport based on a good practice from DIF.


Day three continued with insightful parallel sessions that introduction to the topic of integrity, youth, safeguarding and fair play in sport. Rute Soares (Coordinator of the Integrity and Compliance Unit for the Portuguese Football Federation, Ethics and Disciplinary Integrity for UEFA and Integrity Expert for FIFA), Paul Standaert (President of Panathlon Belgium), Bruno Bidarra and Francisca Pop discussed the importance of “starting with youth” and educating young people to become integrity ambassadors. 


Tine Vertommen, head of the  Forensic Psychology research team at Thomas More University of Applied Sciences and consultant for IOC, presented the prevalence of abuse in sport and the work IOC is doing to tackle this issue. 


Philippe Housiaux, Panathlon Wallonie Bruxelles President, and Bruno Avelar Rosa, Assistant Professor in Universidade Lusófona and consultant for EPAS, highlighted the role fair play plays in sport and explained ways to equip and education youngsters on importance of values in sport. 

HealthyLifestyle4all: promoting healthy lifestyle and inclusion of youth

The educational part of European Sport Platform concluded with a session led by ENGSO Youth, entitled  “HealthyLifestyle4All initiative – Legacy of Youth Ideas Labs”. The session addressed the question of how to promote a healthy lifestyle among young people and include youth in the decision-making processes.


ENGSO Youth Chair Ugnė Chmeliauskaitė and ENGSO Youth Policy manager Tiago Guilherme were joined on stage by Paulo Rocha, Head of Sports for All Division, Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, Laura-Maria Lehiste, Development Officer at the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA)  and Pedro Afonso Valente, PhD student at the University of Coimbra. The speakers presented the implementation of 2022 Youth Ideas Labs at the EU level and national level (Portugal) and the main takeaways from both initiatives.

Conclusion: Austria and Kosovo as hosts of ENGSO’s 2024 events

The European Sport Platform concluded with official announcements of ENGSO’s 2024 events. 

ENGSO Committee member Anna-Maria Wiesner presented the 2024 General Assembly which will be hosted by Sport Austria in Vienna, Austria, on 12-14 June 2024. 

Portuguese Sport Confederation President Carlos Cardoso passed the ENGSO flag to Olympic Committee of Kosovo and its President Ismet Krasniqi who will be the host of the next, seventh edition of the 2024 European Sport Platform  on 21-23 November 2024 in Priština, Kosovo. 


With the aim to foster cooperation between EU and Balkan countries specifically in the field of grassroots sport, the final act of the European Sport Platform was a high-level meeting that took place between ENGSO, Portuguese Sport Confederation and Olympic Committees from Balkan region. Read more about the meeting here.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Portuguese Sport Confederation for a warm welcome in Lisbon, Portugal, and a wonderful event that united sport organisations from all over Europe under a common message of “sport for stronger communities”. 


We are also grateful to all members, partners, guests, speakers and participants for joining ENGSO at the European Sport Platform 2023 and Equality in sport conference and helping us shape the European grassroots movement. 


We look forward to welcoming you next year in Vienna, Austria, for the 2024 General Assembly,  and Priština, Kosovo, for the 2024 European Sport Platform.