European Youth Olympic Festival – a blend of sport, culture and education
25 July 2019
The European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) was established in 1991 by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) not only as a celebration of elite European athletes aged 14 to 18 but also as a valuable platform for education, peace and friendship.
Now in their 15th edition, the summer and winter editions of the EYOF have provided thousands of young Europeans with the opportunity to compete in an Olympic environment while learning about the Olympic Movement and its values of excellence, friendship and respect.
The Baku 2019 EYOF, running from 21-27 July, is no exception. On the field of play, the best young athletes from across the continent are competing in 10 sports: artistic gymnastics, athletics, basketball, cycling, handball, judo, swimming, tennis, volleyball and wrestling.
Off the field of play, a number of fun and interactive activities, workshops and team-building exercises are offered to teach the athletes about each other’s cultures and provide them with the skills to become true ambassadors of their sports and beyond.
The European Young Ambassadors Programme aims to engage with young athletes with special educational activities inside the Athletes’ Village. One of the biggest differences between this programme and others like it is that all the activities are created and administered by the ambassadors themselves.
Twenty-one ambassadors aged 18-25, each from a different National Olympic Committee (NOC), work daily to encourage cultural exchange and teach the Olympic values, including non-discrimination, fair play and the pursuit of excellence.
“The young athletes at EYOF are in their teens, and are therefore in the process of making their own decisions and restructuring their values and beliefs,” says Susanna Rahkamo, Chair of the EOC Olympic Culture and Legacy Commission. “Our intention is to show them how through sports they can make a big impact not only on their personal glory but on people near and far, to connect and build harmony in the world since the Olympic Movement is the biggest peace movement on the planet.”
The Olympic Culture and Education Programme for Baku began in February with a goal of promoting culture, sport and Olympic values among the young generations of Europe.
The OCEP is a joint project initiated by the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan, the EYOF Baku 2019 Organising Committee, and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and is fully funded and supported by the International Olympic Committee and the EOC through Olympic Solidarity.
As part of the programme, 48 schools in Baku were twinned with counterparts in countries across Europe whose athletes are competing at the Baku EYOF. Since February, the students have shared aspects of their local culture, history, art, and sport, while also learning about Olympic values and principles with their peers from various countries.
An Olympic Culture and Sport Pavilion has been constructed at the Athletes’ Village as a final event for the programme. Tents and booths representing each European country have been decorated with the support of students from the respective twinned schools.
In this way, young athletes, team members, and guests visiting the Olympic Village can acquaint themselves with the culture, history, art, and sports of all participating European countries as well as engage with the Olympic spirit.