The Romanian Presidency and the European Commission organised a conference on “The advantages of practicing sport in an organised environment for people with fewer opportunities” from 13th to 14th June 2019 in Constanţa, Romania. During the two-day event representatives from sport organisations, member states and the EU institutions were discussing the social dimension of sport and the opportunities for sport and physical activity stakeholders to involve people at risk. People might have fewer opportunities due to their cultural, ethnic or social background, due to disability or age. In the wider group of people who are at risk to be socially excluded are refugees, migrants, women and prisoners.
During the first day of the event, Elisabeth Thienemann, EU policy officer from EuropeActive moderated the panel on the topic “The social role of sports – inclusion through sport of people with fewer opportunities”. Among the panelists were Romanian’s celebrity athlete Gabriela Szabo, Yves Le Lostecque from the Sport unit of the European Commission, Bart OOIJEN from the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU, Stanislas Frossard from the Sport Division of the Council of Europe and Carolina Marin who is Senior Protection Associate, UNHCR Romania.
Sport and fitness clubs can provide a platform for social interaction and can bring people together who would usually not meet in school, work or other social and physical settings. Whilst the benefits of regular sport and physical activity are well known, its social dimension remains less noticed and social inclusion remains a challenge.