ISCA and European Cyclists’ Federation welcome EU health initiative
ISCA and its NowWeMove Campaign partner the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) welcomed the European Commission’s adoption of a new initiative promoting health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) across sectors in Europe when it was announced on 28 August.
The Commission’s proposal for a Council Recommendation on sport for all, delivered right on the eve of MOVE Week 2013, is the first of its kind and is a timely recognition of grassroots sport as the driving force behind the sports sector’s role as “a key player in any successful effort to promote HEPA”.
Its emphasis on cross-sector collaboration as a catalyst for the promotion of physical activity falls perfectly in line with ISCA and ECF’s efforts in campaigning for more accessible sport for all initiatives that encourage Europeans to be active, according to ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby.
“The Council Recommendation is a very visionary proposal. Its cross-sector approach is the only effective way forward if we want to support the NowWeMove Campaign’s vision of ‘100 million more Europeans active in sport and physical activity by 2020’,” he says.
ECF’s health policy officer Dr. Randy Rzewnicki believes the proposal is a win-win for both the status of the grassroots sport sector and the European Union as a whole.
“It’s an important step on the road to increasing physical activity. For the EU it’s a critical area because of the huge benefits available versus the horrific costs, human and economic, we’re facing if things don’t change,” he says.
Dr. Rzewnicki points out that the overall health benefit for Europeans is the widest reaching effect expected to flow on from the Commission’s initiative. And this does not only refer to its potential to combat the statistic that physical inactivity contributes to around 10% deaths in Europe a year, but to enhance the lives of Europeans to prevent them from developing life-threatening diseases.
“I’m particularly happy that the benefits to mental health are being cited, as it shows that the European authorities are understanding how important physical activity is to general health and well-being,” he says.
Both ISCA and ECF have been running EU-supported initiatives in the field of sport for all for many years, and the EU’s recent proposal gives a boost to these organisations’ advocacy work all as well as promising more opportunities to implement new initiatives in the field through the EU’s new Erasmus+ programme.
Kirkeby believes the Commission could extend the potential of its new proposal even further by helping to facilitate the cross-sector work needed to ensure its impact.
“We know that efficient cross-sector cooperation is difficult both at the national and European level. Therefore one step in the right direction would be to coordinate and align other Commission initiatives from the relevant Directorates such as Health and Consumers, Environment and Education and Culture,” he says.
With the grassroots sport sector at the ready to support the European Commission’s steps towards more promotion of physical activity, a dynamic new era for sport for all promoters and initiatives could soon be set into motion.