A new chapter for Traditional Sport and Games: the EPTSG.
Irish MEP Sean Kelly is no newcomer to traditional sport and games to say the least. As a member of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Sports, former President of Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), and the current Honorary President of Brussels’ very own GAA Club, it only seems fitting Mr. Kelly was the one to launch, within the Parliament, the European Platform for Traditional Sports and Games, on December 6.
Sport and Citizenship possesses a particular interest for Traditional Sports and Games and was a partner to the first European project evolving around TSG, led by TAFISA and financed by the European Commission in 2013, “Recall- Games of the past, Sports for today”.
The Deputy Head of the Sport Unit Maria-Luisa Fernandez-Esteban reviewed the European Commission’s engagement towards Traditional Sport and Games as a priority, notably in regards to safeguarding cultural heritage, before stating how timely the establishment of the EPTSG is as 2018 will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Jean-François Laurent and Wolfgang Baumann of TAFISA presented the platform’s purpose and objectives including the promotion of European values such as cultural heritage and solidarity, the preservation and promotion of TSG, and expanding a sustainable network. An intriguing paradox was emphasised, that of the ever-growing sport globalisation and mega-events while at the same time an urge to reconnect with local traditions, whether they be culinary or games, is arising. Anne Bochum de Vries, Director of Sport Fryslan, who walked the audience through his hometown’s strategy, provided a perfect illustration of the latter. As the European Capital of Culture 2018, Leeuwarden will host TAFISA’s first Europe Sport for All Games thus enabling a high-profile promotion of their cultural traditions.
The panel debate revealed further insight into the new platform’s objectives, Mr. Berggren (Gerlev Sports Academy) hopes for it to act as a bridge between TSG and their popular and political recognition, before he later suggested TSG could be an efficient solution to the present physical inactivity tide- if modern sports are struggling to motivate individuals to participate then TSG may be an alternative solution to attract them. Mr. Baumann stressed the platform be a new founding brick to counter the extinction of TSG, while finally Mr.Comeyne (Flemish Traditional Sports and Games Federation) advocated for broader recognition and acknowledgment of TSG on a similar footing to modern sports.
In a nutshell, Traditional Sport and Games will best contribute to European cultural diversity by remaining practices of the present, in an ever-growing manner.