Over eight thousand children joined sport stars, teachers, fitness trainers and two European Commissioners in Espoo, Finland for the launch of the 2019 European Week of Sport. The sport village in the stadium buzzed with action as it showcased dance shows, aerobics sessions, and football games, attended by mascots, YouTube stars and television personalities. Two of the biggest draws at the event were Finland’s European Week of Sport Ambassadors: basketball ace Shawn Huff and cheerleading champion Rosana Toivonen, who both led the crowd in special training sessions.
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics toured the sport village alongside European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen. Mr Navracsics even pulled a bright orange t-shirt over his white shirt and replaced his dress shoes with trainers as he took part in a Panna football tournament. Let the Week begins – Commissioner Katainen has symbolically thrown the ball, starting the game that kicked-off the 2019 European Week of Sport.
The morning event ended with the crowd chanting and bopping to music as huge inflatable balls featuring the #BeActive hashtag were released into the crowd.
The official opening of the Week continued as the key participants strolled to the nearby Sello Hall for a seminar organized by the European Commission, looking at how education authorities, local government and sport organisations can entice young people to be more active. In the words of Commissioner Navracsics “We know the importance of instilling healthy habits at a young age. If young people get to know sport and enjoy it, they are more likely to play it throughout their lives,” he said. “This is why encouraging physical activity in schools is so important – even more so for children coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
He was echoed by others at the seminar like Slovenian State Secretary for Education, Science and Sport Martina Vuk and Ilva Biedre from the Latvian Sports Federation's Council. “The European Week of Sport has inspired many people in Finland to #BeActive,” said Finland’s State Secretary Tuomo Puumala, Ministry of Education and Culture.
Since its launch in 2015, the European Week of Sport has brought together hundreds of groups to organise events, while providing information about the benefits of sports activities and healthy nutrition. Last year, 13 million people took part in over 48,000 separate events across Europe for the European Week of Sport. With 42 countries taking part in this year’s event, including the western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries and regions, 2019’s numbers are expected to be even higher, hoping to get into 2020 with more than 20 million of #BeActive participants.
The highlight of the European Week of Sport is the #BeActive Night, on Saturday, September 28, where a series of mass sport events will take place in cities across Europe. Commissioner Navracsics urged people to get out in large numbers for the #BeActive Night. He has called all Europeans to join the #5minchallenge on Saturday and to #BeActive all together at 7pm CET for (at least) 5 minutes: “We have to motivate people, and these events can be a great motivation because people see good role models, champions, athletes!” he said.