European Seminar “Involving Young Migrants in Winter Sports”08 January 2012

Sport associations and experts are discussing on 12th of January in Innsbruck, Austria

A day before the opening of the maiden Winter Youth Olympic Games 2012 (WYOG) in Innsbruck , a European conference will focus on the participation of young migrants in winter sports for the first time.

While in many other sports the participation of children with migration backgrounds is a matter of course, they aren't visible in winter sports – neither as active sportsmen or sportswomen nor as trainers or officials.

The European seminar “Involving Young Migrants in Winter Sports” will be opened by the Mayor of Innsbruck, Christine Oppitz-Plörer and Bart Ooijen from the Sport Unit of the European Commission on Thursday (12.1.2012). The Austrian winter sport will be represented by members of the Sledge Association, the EBEL (Ice Hockey League) and the Sportunion Innsbruck.

More than 40 NGOs, partners and activitists from the FARE network alongside with sports organisations, associations, youth trainers and workers, groups of migrant self-organisation and scientists from 14 different countries will participate in the seminar which will take place at the Haus der Begegnung (Rennweg 12, Innsbruck, Austria).

The conference is the first European-wide platform for an in-depth debate and discourse about the integration of young migrants in winter sports, the problem of their underrepresentation and the absence of minorities in traditional winter sports.

Supporting Migrants in Skiing

Organiser Bella Bello Bitugu from FARE partner organisation FairPlay. Different Colours. One Game at the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) says:
In the debate about the integrative potential of sports, we have mainly dealt with football up until now. The parents of the current Austrian football player of the year are from the Philippines and Nigeria. But what about winter sports, where can we find the Alabas and the Jukics?

Sport associations are slowly realising, that they have to get active. Peter Schröcksnadel, the president of the Austrian Skiing Federation, said a short time ago that
the key issue for the future of the Austrian national sport – Skiing, is the encouragement of youth with migration backgrounds.

The seminar will explore how sports clubs and associations can become more open to and integrate these groups in winter sports and how winter sports can be made more attractive to young migrants.

The seminar is organised by FairPlay-VIDC within the framework of the ongoing EU project “SPIN – Social Inclusion Network”. NGOs, football associations, players' unions and sport organisations from Germany, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Hungary, Finland and Austria are the core partners in the SPIN-project.

Apart from the Sport Unit of the European Commission, the Austrian Ministry for Sport, the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) and the City of Innsbruck are also supporting the SPIN multiplier seminar.

The final programme of the seminar can be downloaded from the SPIN project website.