In an interview with ISF President, Laurent Petrynka, carried out by Mediapart – Sport and Citizenship, Petrynka talked about the responsibility of school federations in promoting physical activity initiatives. The following short article is an excerpt from the original article in French, which can be found here.
Interview translated by the ISF Communication Team.
One of the objectives of the European Week of Sport (EWoS) is to change the habits of European citizens and increase physical activity. Is education the key to achieve this?
Laurent Petrynka: I could give you a scientific answer stating that only education can change the health habits. However, more pragmatically, a number of factors confirm the importance of school regarding this matter. First of all, 100% of young people are at school (the case in France). It is the only place where public policies can be applied to a great number of the population. Second, teachers are highly qualified, and third, habits related to sport or health learnt when young are more likely to continue. Finally, it is our responsibilities, school federations, to be involved in those initiatives.
We should continue working on encouraging more physical education sports classes being taught at schools. European institutions should simplify the procedures of getting support from the European Union. Their supportive programmes are so complex that it creates distance between European institutions and national administrations. Therefore, European institutions should work on a structuring role to clearly define their targets related to good governance of sport in Europe. We wait for more public appearances, statements, and initiatives and to be more informed about the daily problems that school sport managers meet.
Europe must think through the meaning of sport autonomy. Autonomy does not mean, “do whatever we want to”. It should be defined as “responsibility” towards a European public and delegations.
What is your view on physical activity taking place at school?
(Speaking about the French Case)
The prevailing opinion is that students do not practice enough sport outside schools and that sport at school is not really sport. However, in relation to this, there are many critics that are biased. Physical Education (PE) teachers know how to balance pedagogy and sports practice, but I do believe that improvement could be done throughout several recommendations. Some of these might be:
- Make it mandatory to create Sport Associations in schools.
- Increase the number of hours for PE teachers during the school year.
- Open more sport sections in schools linked to the national federations of the sports in question.
- Give more autonomy to schools to make their own « High Level Sport Practice » (cf parcours d’excellence) Agenda.
Let’s not forget the need to work on mixed-sports. Recently young people organized an international forum about that issue. It was very successful.
You were elected as President of ISF with a dynamic and innovative programme. What is your agenda?
The agenda with the new main rules will be adopted at the next General Assembly in July 2016, at the same time as the Gymnasiade in Trabzon. By that time, we will have had 2 years of consultations and recommendations to build the “Vision 2030”
Some priorities are:
- To reinforce the quality, visibility and number of participating countries in our events.
- To have a full administration working at the ISF Office in Antwerp.
- To support the continents in the development of the ISF by assigning them as many means as possible.
- To adopt good procedures of governance.
- To reinforce the link between the ISF and international sport federations, including the IOC.
For completeness, ISF must be part of the CSR policy of major sporting events. For instance, France is organising “Euro School Football” with the support from UEFA FOOT 2016, Michel Planiti and Jacques Lambert. We would propose the same initiative to the IOC for the OG Paris 2024.
In this spirit, the role of students and athletes must to be considered. We must include them in our governance. ISF is a great organisation with values, history, and cultural heritage. Now, we must open up while preserving our DNA.
Photo source: UNSS