Athletes and industry arrive in Brussels to make the case for more outdoor sports in Europe

Mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner takes part in the opening of the first European Week of Sport.

Outdoor activities are taking centre stage this week during the inaugural European Week of Sport (EWOS).  EWOS is a European Commission initiative and aims to promote sport and physical activity across Europe.  EWOS was formally launched in Brussels this morning (07.09.15) and Austrian mountaineer and EWOS Ambassador Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner was on hand to represent the outdoor world.  Supported by the European Outdoor Group (EOG) and its campaign #ItsGreatOutThere, athletes, companies and everyday outdoor enthusiasts are raising their voices to encourage Europeans to have more active outdoor lifestyles.  Policymakers are being urged to put in place a framework to get people of all ages outside and allow them to connect back with nature.

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner comments: “Given the opportunity, I know that millions of European citizens can experience the same connection with the outdoors that I enjoy.  However, in this age of urbanisation and digitalisation, some need an extra ‘push’ in the right direction, which is why the European Week of Sport is such an important initiative.  It is vital that this campaign is just the start and that policymakers go on to fully embrace the power of outdoor sports in being able to help us all live healthier, happier lives.  For that to happen, we need a movement that is driven by us, the people of Europe, and as the Outdoor Ambassador for the European Week of Sport, I certainly intend to play my part in that.”

During the launch of EWOS, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner made a personal commitment: “In the Spirit of the European week of Sport I will gather my friends together, and teach them the basics of mountaineering and to treat nature with respect.”

Following the launch event, Kaltenbrunner introduced the sport of bouldering to representatives of the European Commission, presidency and parliament.  Later this week, the EOG will lead a workshop with policymakers on access to sport and physical activity across social groups and spaces.  Throughout EWOS, a temporary sports village has been set up in Brussels, which includes a bouldering wall, with instructors on hand to demonstrate the activity and allow people to have a go themselves.

The EWOS sports village will also feature a booth for the EOG’s #ItsGreatOutThere social media campaign, which has been running in the lead up to the week and will finish on Friday 11 September, the outdoor focus day.  #ItsGreatOutThere was designed to engage and inspire citizens throughout Europe, using three hashtag competitions.  People were asked to post comments, photos and videos using outdoor themed hashtags, with €20,000 worth of outdoor product prizes on offer. 

The competitions quickly created thousands of engagements and reached a potential 15 million people across Europe on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as people shared their inspiring stories and took others outdoors.  The campaign will conclude on 11 September, when a public vote will decide the overall winner of #ItsGreatOutThere. 

John Jansen, President of the EOG, comments: “The European Week of Sport is an excellent opportunity for our sector to demonstrate to policymakers that outdoor activities should be a core part of any plans relating to the promotion of physical activities in Europe.  Through the success of #ItsGreatOutThere, we have already shown how the outdoors can engage and inspire.  And we know from studies and reports that being active is not only beneficial for the individual, but for society as a whole.  From the individual level, to schools and workplaces, to communities, to countries, to EU-wide initiatives – it is time to include this in our planning, thinking and action.  

“It will be a core part of the EOG agenda to encourage companies to be active in this field and with the help of our excellent ambassador Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, we will be working hard to continue a positive dialogue with politicians and other stakeholders in Brussels.  This week is just the start.”

Alberto Bichi of FESI, EWOS Ambassador Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Mathias Basedow of the EOG.

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner demonstrates bouldering to Mr Romain Schneider, Minister for Sport of Luxembourg

The EWOS billboard in Brussels