An online discussion on youth spaces after COVID, with a focus on sport, was co-organised by the European Parliament Sports Group and the UEFA Foundation for Children on 21st April 2021.
In the course of the discussion, MEP Dragos Pislaru reminded the participants that the current crisis is affecting coaches, sports clubs and fitness centers, especially financially, but it is also affecting the population. Physical activity plays a crucial role in fighting non-communicable diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. He added that the EU should contribute more to sports and physical activity, and that it should be a part of the recovery plan. Nicolai Boysen, Board Member of the European Youth Forum, also emphasized that access to sports is crucial, for social reasons but also for physical and mental wellbeing.
During the panel discussion, stakeholders discussed the importance of sport for young generations and initiatives on how to allow children and students to be active during and after the pandemic. Yann Leymarie, Head of Sports at the Surfrider Foundation Europe, and Hedeli Sassi, Football & Social Responsibility Manager at the Royal Belgian Football Association, explained that they organised several events to develop inclusion in local communities.
In his concluding remarks, MEP Tomasz Frankowski stated that the recovery of sports is of the utmost importance. He stressed that the lack of physical activity is having strong negative impact on public health. Regular exercise is particularly important in these difficult times. Floor van Houdt, Head of the European Commission Sport Unit, reminded the participants that sport is the way to a healthy lifestyle.