What did Eger teach us about Olympic Education?

Event Report on the EOA Seminar Eger

Between Hungarian vineyards, baroque buildings and the old fortress of Eger, nine NOAs and several experts met at the beginning of March 2023 within the framework of the second Regional Seminar of the EOA to contemplate and discuss the perspectives of Olympic education in Central and South-Eastern countries. The aim was to highlight valuable food for thought and approaches to help National Olympic Academies implement Olympic Education projects through a comparative lens.

Hungarian Olympic Academy organised second EOA Seminar

Wednesday, 1 March 2023, saw the delegates of nine NOAs (Albania, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Ukraine) gathering at the Kemeny Ferenc Sports School in Eger. EOA President Prof. Dr. Manfred Laemmer opened the seminar with a virtual welcoming speech, after which Vice-President Prof. Dr. Mariia Bulatova expressed her gratitude and appreciation to the organisers. Hungarian Olympic champion and IOC member Daniel Gyurta welcomed the seminar participants and put his signature on a gallery wall in the sports school featuring all Hungarian Olympic medallists.

The seminar was entitled “Perspectives on Olympic Education in Central and South-Eastern European Countries”. In the spirit of Olympism, the participants got to know each other in a small activity and honoured the school’s namesake and IOC Founding Member Ferenc Kemeny, whose bust adorns the entrance area. Afterwards, the President of the Hungarian Olympic Academy Dr. Zsuzsanna Bukta lectured on sports structures and sports in the education system of South-Eastern European countries after the Second World War until today. The post-socialist countries faced similar challenges after the fall of the Iron Curtain and found different solutions from which they can learn from each other nowadays.

Olympic Education in Practice

Senior Education Manager at the International Olympic Committee Xenia Kourgouzova introduced OVEP – Olympic Values Education Programme – to the participants and illustrated the latest amendments that aim to make the programme more applicable at the local level. She illustrated current OVEP partnerships, for example, in India and Senegal and called on NOAs to contact the IOC with remarks or concrete plans. While most of the participating NOAs have already implemented OVEP in their country, this exchange provided a helpful immersion into the topic and discussion of the perceived challenges directly with the IOC representative.

At the end of the day, Gyorgy Pazonyis, a Hungarian P.E. teacher with an extraordinary passion for Olympism, presented his teaching methods to bring the Olympic Movement closer to students, which added a practice example from the local level to the seminar input.

Special guest Deanna Binder inspired delegates

On the second day of the seminar, Prof. Dr. Deanna Binder, a world-leading retired expert who has written many leading curricula in Olympic education (including “Teaching Values: An Olympic Education Toolkit” (OVEP), “Be a Champion in Life”, “Fair Play for Kids” and “Come Together: The Olympics and You”), delivered a lively insight into her methods of pedagogy. She hosted an evocative and touching workshop. In small groups, NOA delegates represented different countries in a simulated opening ceremony.

“Finding a shared ethical base in a pluralistic, multicultural, global society is not optional; it is crucial to our survival physically and morally. The challenge is to find consensus in diversity and difference, and to retain the breadth, depth and richness of human knowing”

Margaret Somerville, as cited by Deanna Binder at the EOA Seminar Eger.

More than a few participants recalled their own Olympic past, and the room filled with nostalgia, emotion and an intense sense of community. Between the lecture and the workshop, Olympic medallist in water polo Zoltan Szecsi enriched the attendees with an inspirational speech about mindset and self-confidence.

What can NOAs learn from each other?

Friday, 3 March, saw the last agenda point of the seminar, an intensive debate of the current NOA projects and challenges as well as perspectives for cooperation at the European level.

Gain some visual impressions captured in this video from the Hungarian Olympic Committee. You can find their video on their official website here.

Five key findings of the EOA Seminar Eger:
  1. Similar challenges, different approaches
    After the fall of the Iron Curtain, many countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe faced similar challenges in their sport and education systems. The affected NOAs applied different strategies to overcome those challenges.
  2. Strong emphasis on Olympic education
    Impactful Olympic education programmes are still only scattered around the world. However, the Central and South Eastern European countries have clearly recognised the importance of Olympic education.
  3. No standardisation
    Olympic education programmes should be locally oriented, target group-specific and tailored individually. Universal or standardised methods tend to be of less utility.
  4. Monitoring and evaluation
    There is a need for improvement in the systematic and routine collection and assessment of information in order to evaluate the impact of the Olympic Education projects.
  5. European collaboration
    The opportunities for personal exchange and information sharing provided by the EOA help National Olympic Academies to carry out and improve existing Olympic education projects by learning from each other’s state of knowledge.

The seminar was concluded with heartfelt thanks from Vice-President Mariia Bulatova and the Ukrainian Olympic Academy. She expressed her special gratitude to the invited experts Deanna Binder, Xenia Kourgouzova, as well as Prof. Dr. Kostas Georgiadis from the International Olympic Academy.

A well-rounded seminar came to an end

The exchange among the NOAs, PE teachers and experts was underlined by a relaxed atmosphere and cultural visits. These included a wine tasting, a historical and educational city tour through sunny spring-like Eger and to the local sports museum, allowing for a consolidation of the links between the neighbouring countries of Hungary.

The meeting will result in a publication analysing the perspectives of the participating National Olympic Academies in a comparative style. More information will be available soon on the EOA website and social media channels.

About the EOA Seminars

In 2022, the European Olympic Academies launched a new event format called “EOA Seminars”. In this series of regional workshops, experts and NOA delegates explore current issues in the Olympic Movement and means to apply them to the practice of the National Olympic Academies. At the same time, this setting provides a forum for academies from neighbouring countries to meet and share their knowledge and expertise. The first edition was hosted by the Lithuanian Olympic Academy at Klaipeda University in August 2022, the second regional seminar took place in Eger under the organisation of the Hungarian Olympic Academy in March 2023.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *