(seen through the ‘ eyes ‘ of Willy Seppion – not chronologically …).
1. The creation of the International School sport Federation.
In May 1971 Austria invited 21 European countries to a ‘ Conference of European School Sport .There the idea was launched to form an organisation that would lead to the development of the school sport across borders. On June 4, 1972 in Beaufort (Luxembourg) the ISF was established.
2. The establishment of a permanent secretariat in Brussels (Belgium)
During twenty-five years the ISF was run on a voluntary basis. This situation was untenable and the Foundation Flemish School sport (SVS) offered on a voluntary basis, to provide premises and personnel to support the work of the ISF. The ISF Secretariat was established in Brussels at the SVS and with administrative support of two persons, made available by the Flemish Minister for culture and sports.
The inauguration of this General Secretariat took place in Brussels on 22 January 1998.
3. The appointment of a full-time Secretary-General.
Moving towards a more independent structure got ISF its own secretariat and a full-time Secretary General (Jan Coolen, Belgium/Flanders). This would be the next step to a further professionalisation of the International School sport that has over seventy members/countries.
Jan Coolen was appointed as SG in 2002 during the General Assembly in Caen France. The permanent secretariat is now located in Antwerp (Belgium/Flanders).
4. Setting up various Symposia and seminars.
Between 20 and 22 November 1980 held ISF its first Symposium (“In-ter-school”)
From the beginning the ISF has not merely been concerned with organizing competitions. It has held several symposia and seminars to focus on the ISF Mission (the educational side of ISF), as well as the market places of the Organization (marketing & communications). Recently another seminar was set up in Antwerp around event communication and shortly there will be a seminar in Qatar (ISF Convention) where the Mission of ISF is reviewed.
5. ISF Gymnasiade, the showpiece
The first Gymnasiade took place in 1974 in Wiesbaden (Germany).
At first it was organised every two years, now every four years. The focus of the program is athletics, gymnastics and swimming. Since last year the host will get the possibility to add other sports to the program (judo, karate,… chess) and this event is not the preserve of school teams. Also individual top sporting pupils can be registered. Such an event brings more than 2000 young people from the ISF countries from all over the world.
6. The Current ISF Protocol agreements
In 1995 ISF signed its first protocol with the IOC. Since then, the International School sports are linked to major international sports structures such as SportAccord, GAISF, Panathlon International and Unesco,…
In the meantime were also Memoranda of understanding concluded with international sport Federations to come to a close cooperation. For all partners it is a ‘ win-win ‘ situation.
7. The integration of the girls.
Within the ISF, there has never been a problem with the integration of girls in the various sports. Since the start of the competitions were organized for ISF boys and girls. Only football was started later because girls-football at school in 1972 still was nonexistent.
If we look at the statistics in the various sports, we see that there are equal names of boys and girls to the ISF events equivalent.
8. ISF may occur outside of Europe.
As early as 1977 (USA basketball) registered school teams from outside Europe are in for the ISF events (1981 Sud Africa, 1981 China/Asia, 1989 Austraila) Started within Europe, we see that there is also interest was soon from the other continents. Now we meet at practically any event school teams from the five continents and ISF itself organizes events all over the world.
9. Start of the external communication.
The first ‘ Open Door ‘ appeared in september 1996. The communication with the members/countries and the official authorities during the early years was particularly weak. Then Georges Lanners (Luxembourg), the President of ISF decided to the publish a quarterly magazine to bring the various school sports federations closer. For lack of manpower and financial resources this initiative was cancelled. In 2006 ISF started with an own website which was rejuvenated in 2014, and now has ISF facebook and Twitter. Further an ISF Magazine that is digitally created will appear every two months. The communication is a priority for ISF!
10. Functioning of the various technical committees.
From the first ISF event in 1972 (football in Herentals, Belgium Flanders) was appointed a working group that became the sport technical organization (Thomas Ticher/Ireland). Each time a new sport appears on the agenda such a Committee is set up with a President and a number of members, depending on the sport. This skilled groups of volunteers guarantee the success of the various competitions.