• ENGSO Youth

The Legacy of Major Sport Events: A Panel Discussion hosted by ENGSO Youth at the 2018 European Yout

In our previous article you were able to read about our overall experience in the European Youth Event 2018.

If you haven't check-it yet, you can do it HERE.

Now, it's time to dig into more ENGSO Youth's workshops and it's outcomes!

...Let's see, what happened in our legacy of major sport events panel discussion from the pen of our young delegate, Marisa Schlenker!

In addition to hosting a workshop on the intersection of the Sustainable Development Goals with sport, which proved to be a very engaging and multidimensional theme for discussion, ENGSO Youth was responsible for organizing and hosting a panel with the theme, ‘The Legacy of Major Sports Events’ and which took place in the European Parliament building. As a relatively new youth delegate with ENGSO Youth, I was honored when asked to sit on the panel amongst the following distinguished guests:

Emmeline Ndoungue, representative from the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee,

Lode Goossens, representing the Youth Olympic Games Young Changemaker program,

Nafsika Vrettaki, representing the European Youth Forum Board and

Anna Edes, representing the European University Summer Games Organizing Committee.

As the title of the panel alludes to, there is a lot of interest as well as concern directed towards the sustainability, impact and legacies of mega sport events. With the examples from Ms. Emmeline Ndoungue relating to the Paris 2024 planning, it was evident that the framework for conceptualizing impact has moved beyond the economic realm to include the social and environmental issues. In relation to the social impacts, Lode Goossen’s experience with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Youth changemaker program shed light on how mega sport institutions, such as the IOC, reach out and support youth to develop their own projects which combine social entrepreneurship skills and sport.

The panel discussion moved between examples from mega sport events to those from non- mega sport events, the latter being defined as smaller in size, scope, scale and reach. Shifting the focus towards non- mega sport events gave room for different examples to highlight how sports events at the more local levels are also being planned with impact and ‘legacy’ in mind, whether it be relating to the short or long- term effects. As a participant, volunteer and now part of the organizing team with the European University Games, Ms Edes gave various examples of the ways in which the upcoming games are being very cognizant of their social and environmental impacts, such as the utilization of sport spaces and the inclusion of concepts such as fair play. As a representative of the Responsiball Initiative, I had the opportunity to share some of the insights gained from doing research on professional football clubs approaches to corporate social responsibility, whether it be in response to governance, social or environmental issues.

Moving from the mega to non- mega sport events was a practical step as it took the conversation down to a more local level, where youth already are and can potentially play even more defined roles in the organization and implementation of sport events. An argument can be made that if youth are at the table, able to be part of the decisions surrounding such sport events, then there is a greater likelihood that they will place emphasis on multidimensional issues that not only affect their futures but the futures of their communities. ENGSO Youth advocates strongly for the inclusion of youth in decision making, specifically in relation to the sport related topics, which intersect with social, economic and environmental issues. These types of issues came forward when the audience was given the floor, with the following as examples of questions directed towards the panel: ‘how sport can be used to strengthen a country’s civil society?’ or ‘how can youth benefit more from the economic impact of mega events in their cities?’ among others.

As the panel came to a close, we were left with the following takeaways:

Ms Ndoungue reminded the youth in the audience to bring forth their ideas to be a part of the planning and organizing of sport events that will directly and indirectly impact their lives.

Ms Édes used her own experiences as a volunteer, participant and now organizer to demonstrate the many ways in which youth can get involved in a sporting event, such as the University games.

Mr Lode Goosens emphasized the importance of setting up programs, such as the IOC Youth changemakers, which give youth a space to develop their own sport projects that aim to address social challenges.

Ms Vrettaki stressed the importance of the political space, noting that this is where sport connects with other policy issues significant to youth.

My own contribution was to reiterate that we can’t assume that a sport event, even those at the local levels, has the potential to address all societal issues, but instead figure out a way to leverage the space and platform that it creates and find ways to use sport as a conduit to achieving wider development goals. If we view sport (as well as sport events) as being part of a process, rather than end in itself, it can force us to examine the political, social, cultural and economic contexts within which such events operate.