“Welcoming young people from all over the world in 2022”
Will it be Normandy’s turn to organise the World School Summer Games in 2022? That is the ambition of the National Union for School Sport (UNSS) and its National Director, Nathalie Costantini, who submitted the official bid this autumn.
Interviewed by Sylvain LANDA
What are the “Gymnasiades School Summer Games”, and why are you bidding to organise them?
NC: It is the largest event organised by the International School Sport Federation (ISF) and it brings together a lot of people involved in school sport throughout the world.
Although the decision to submit a bid did not come from me, when I was nominated in 2018, I was delighted to take over the task with my collaborators. With the strong support of the State, the different ministries, the council of region, the local authorities and also a good number of private and public partners, our bid shows our keenness on innovation, sharing, education and cultural exchanges. In 2022, more than 5,000 athletes aged between 15 and 18 will take part in the 20 disciplines. The full bid was sent to the ISF at the end of October and the key part of the process, which we hope will be favourable for us, takes place in Zagreb on 30 November. The ISF Executive Committee will have to choose between Azerbaijan, France, Serbia and Russia.
There is more to this project than just sport. How do you envisage the event?
NC: “The UNSS is more than just sport” is our slogan and that is the theme for Normandy 2022. Four strong ideas sum up our project:
- Games before the Games, a major event, two years before the Paris Olympics. Normandy 2022 will be an important part of the educational programme for Paris 2024, offering unusual places for doing sport and new disciplines like breakdancing.
- Games in all the regions. The 130 UNSS regional services, present in 4 continents (mainland France and overseas territories) will be hard at work from December 2019 until the opening ceremony, in close support of all the countries wanting to take part in the competition.
- Games for all. Inclusion is a national priority for us and we want to make it possible for young people from the whole world to meet up at the Gymnasiades, free from any sort of discrimination.
- Games for young people by young people. The UNSS is very proud of this: the competitions are the total responsibility of pupils with skills recognised by national or international certificates (referees, judges, organisers, reporters and interpreters).
You insist heavily on the educational element in school sport. Will this aspect be part of the project?
NC: The UNSS is a sporting federation and an operator in national education, and our stakeholders are pupils in secondary schools. In line with its objectives of developing participation in sport and commitment to clubs and associations, it is a tool for acquiring skills, knowledge and life-skills and plays a role in forming young people, within a framework of self-respect and respect for other people and for sports grounds and facilities.
Our bid is also a way of highlighting our expertise in school sport and the work of our UNSS managers and teachers with our 1.2 million members each year.