Romanian sport – a race for performance or social impact?

Romanian sport is in its infancy, or at least that’s what the statistics tell us, the few concrete data we can refer to at the moment. According to Eurostat data, the rate of participation in sports among the population aged 15 years and over is 6.3%, which is the lowest in Europe, compared to the European average of 44.3% or some developed countries, where we find participation of more than 75%, as is the case in Denmark.

At the national level, the employment rate in the sports field, in 2020, was 0.2% of the employment rate at the national level. Again, our country appears to be the tail of Europe, while at the opposite pole is Iceland with a sports employment rate of 2.2%.

All these statistics look at home, if we look at the number of sports clubs in Romania and its development over time. If in 2008, according to the information of Statista, Romania had 57 sports clubs, then in 2019 it reached 87, and later decreased to 80 in 2020.

I would choose to stop here with these stats, although I could continue to have a low rate of volunteering in sport in our country, low participation and non-existent interest in the population in all things sporting event and the list goes on.

On the other side of the barrier we hear more and more voices talking about Romanian sports performance, despite what the numbers tell us. It echoes in our minds all those endless strategies that talk about sports for all, in fact just a few words on a piece of paper, without concrete action plan and implementation goals and without real impact on societies and society.

While almost everyone involved in Romanian sport is interested in producing successful athletes to lead the country to the pinnacle of success, we, at the grassroots level, struggle to promote the importance of sport in schools, to convince parents that sport brings many related benefits, creating an impact Social through sport and to convince the people around us how important it is to have a community on the edge of the field.

Sports for all should be the main premise from which any performance race begins, and in the absence of a clear and coordinated strategy of this kind, it seems that importing professional players from the most exotic worlds remains one of the few solutions to resuscitation. In sports, the Romanian team – a phenomenon that seems to be gaining momentum, especially in rugby.

And then, I wonder, in a rhetorical way – what is the role of sports in our lives and the lives of our children? Is it just another box we can quietly tick if we turn on TV on a sports channel at a heavily advertised event, like the Olympics or a soccer tournament? Or is it only those values ​​that sport can foster and instill among our children – those who will shape our future?

Social impact through sport is a concept titled, which has been used and implemented since ancient times and in practice, to be understood by all, it solves, above all, countless social challenges, faced at the level of society. Most likely, Romanian sport would be in a completely different situation now, if we, all participants in Romanian sport, were primarily interested in creating a positive social impact around us and promoting values ​​worthy of sport.

As someone who has been in Romanian rugby for at least five years, I dare say it is time for a change and time to identify solutions. Otherwise we will live many years henceforth in the shadow of the long-standing Roman offerings.

At the same time, I know that sports can move communities in the truest sense of the word and I saw recently in our small community, in Gura Humorului, when the stadium was full in view of the live broadcast of the match by TVR with the fans and the atmosphere in the stands was amazing.

In our community as well, we’ve seen the impact of sports on more than 500 kids across the county, who practice rugby principles. They met at a tournament dedicated to Children’s Day, for both girls and boys, and mixed teams, and with them I felt what this investment in sport really means: a healthy base for the adult of tomorrow, who otherwise understands respect and competition, but at the same time the need to work within a team to achieve success. And many parents are more competitive than their children, which is one of the biggest problems of Romanian sport. But we are moving forward and laying the foundation for a grand plan to change attitudes towards sport. Despite all the obstacles, it seems possible. Or we are so stubborn that we don’t give up now.

Gabriela Popescu is the founder of Te Aud Romania.

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