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30/09/2011 Joanna Senyszyn : The Polish Presidency has very ambitious plans in the field of sport

Fighting for a proactive sport policy at EU level, MEP Joanna Senyszyn is undoubtedly a key figure in debates on sport among the European Parliament. In partnership with the think tank Sport and Citizneship, publishes an interview from their quarterly journal. Interview by Carole Ponchon

Will Poland take advantage of momentums such as the EU Presidency as well as the UEFA EURO 2012 ™ to put sport higher on its political agenda?

Yes of course. Sport has always been present and very important in Poland. For example, football is our most popular sport, and we have a rich history of participation in international competitions. The Polish Presidency has very ambitious plans in the field of sport. It will be the first Presidency working in the context of the new “EU work-plan for sport” adopted in May 2011. The Polish Presidency’s priority will be to develop new sport initiatives and address issues fully in line with the Europe 2020 strategy.

Our journal is mainly devoted this quarter to the study of sport at school. What is the importance of sport in the Polish educational system? What would be the best sport programme at school?

JS: The Polish education system in sport is countrywide and centrally-regulated by a national central body responsible for sport affairs, within the Ministry of National Education and Sport. Poland has a vocational education and training system related to sport. I find that sport in schools is very important for the child's development.

Sport fosters many essential skills like: how to work in a team, learning how to deal with people from different backgrounds, how to work together towards a common goal etc. Children as well need an outlet for releasing school stress.

This think tank founded in 2007 focusses on the role of sport in European societies. It publishes a quarterly review on issues related to sport and citizenship.

To my mind, the best sport programme at school is planned and delivered by trained and professional staff according to children age and needs. It is dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles through sports. It helps to build physical strength and to develop moral and ethical potential. And last but not least -it is fun and free.

To your mind how could we better develop the strategic role of sport among the European society?

JS: We can assume that the closest to the European society is, in fact grassroots sport. Indeed, nowadays, grassroots sport is engaging 40% of all Europeans on a regular basis plus 65% of Europeans identify themselves as active on regular basis. We can see that more than half of European society is involved in grassroots sport. We need to support them and increase these numbers. There are multifaceted benefits to supporting grassroots sport - health, economic and social aspects, to improving the quality of life and developing human capital in Europe. Moreover, the proper funding for sport can also result in saving Member States' governments considerable sums of money. I am the author of the Written Declaration on grassroots sport which has been adopted by the European Parliament and which calls to prioritise grassroots sport in the new European sport programme. I wish all Europeans to support this Declaration and to try to convince their governments that in the new European programme on sport - the grassroots sport must be taken seriously into consideration as it is sport which benefits all of us.

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