EUSA attends European Paralympic Committee webinar

EUSA attends European Paralympic Committee webinar

EUSA representatives took part in a European Paralympic Committee webinar earlier this month, engaging in various topics on how to improve conditions for greater involvement of young people with disabilities in sport.

The title of the webinar, which took place on Tuesday, July 14, was “Sports & Disabilities: Getting from Grassroots to Paralympics”.

Various topics were discussed in the online meeting, attended by stakeholders and well-known figures from across Europe, which included the importance of sport for a healthy lifestyle; challenges in times of crisis; policy attention and funding at national and EU level and its impact on young athletes to engage in sports to fulfill their aspirations; the transition from grassroots to Paralympics and sustainable funding.

Keynote speakers and panelists in the webinar included European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Ms Mariya Gabriel; Young Paralympic Athlete Mr Noah Rainer; EPC President Mr Ratko Kovacic; MEP Ms Monica Semedo; Croatian State Secretary Mr Tomislav Druzak and German State Secretary for Sport Mr Markus Kerber.

Luxembourg Member of the European Parliament Ms Monica Semedo set the stage by addressing the inclusion of the Paralympic movement every time sports policies are discussed, to help people foster the athletes’ sometimes hidden talents.

Mr Rainer, with the support of his trainer grandfather, presented his experience as an athlete, from the moment his career started and taking part in competitions to challenges and hopes for the future of the Paralympic movement, giving special attention to the promotion of Paralympic sports to help athletes develop both skills and personality.

EPC Webinar

Ms Gabriel then presented the general idea of the future for sports with special attention given to athletes with disabilities in the context of the EU’s new Multi-Annual Financial Framework (2021-2027), the end of the current European Union Work Plan for Sport (2017-2020), the upcoming post-2020 Disability Strategy and the COVID-crisis.

EPC President Mr Kovacic then brought to light a few statistical numbers regarding sports and disabilities. The presented knowledge stated that we currently have about 80 million people with an impairment in the EU (17% of the population), while it is estimated that only approximately 30 000 persons with a disability participate continuously in sport. That is why special attention must be placed on funding the events and promotion of the Paralympic movement.

The last panelists were the representatives from both the previous and current Presidencies of the Council of the EU, from Croatia and Germany respectively. They spoke about cooperation between EU members as well as exchanging experiences gained to improve solutions on international level. They also discussed the importance of availability of sports to all citizens, as an equal right to have a healthy and active lifestyle.

The panel concluded with a short Q&A from participants of the webinar to the panelists before a short feedback session from the Austrian young athlete Mr Rainer. He was happy with the subjects mentioned and conclusions of the webinar and is looking forward to a positive future of the Paralympic movement in the years to come.