The meeting took place within the framework of the 4th Round of the China-EU High-Level People to People Dialogue which, for the first time, included sport as a key topic. Carnegie School of Sport Senior Research Fellow Sergio Lara-Bercial travelled to Shanghai as part of the EU sport expert delegation invited by EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Mr Tibor Navracsics.
China and the EU have a long-standing tradition of cooperation and exchange. More recently, this cooperation has been formalised in what has been called the High-Level People to People Dialogue (HPPD). Now in its fourth year, the HPPD has traditionally focused on issues related to education, culture and youth. However, this round included for the very first time the topic of sport which was identified by both parties as fundamental for the future. The aim of this dialogue is to bring together EU and Chinese representatives of the sport movement and national administrations to exchange good practices and identify possible areas of cooperation.
In addition to Mr Lara-Bercial, the EU expert delegation included Mr Yves Le Losteque (Head of Sport Unit of European Commission), Mr Tarvi Pürn (Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Culture of Estonia), Mr Pal Schmitt (Member of the IOC), Mr Laurent Petrynka (President of the International School Sport Federation), Mr Patrick Roult (High Performance Director, INSEP Paris), Mr. Thierry Zintz (Catholic University of Louvain and European Observatoire of Sport) and Mr Alexandre Husting (EU sport policy expert from the government of Luxembourg).
The delegation participated in the plenary session of the China-EU High Level People-to-People Dialogue on Education, Culture and Sport on Tuesday 14th November. The objective of this session was to assess the progress made since the last HPPD and also to announce areas for future cooperation. Chinese Vice Premier Mme Liu Yandong and Commissioner Navracsics expressed their satisfaction with progress so far and challenged and encouraged all present to think outside the box to enhance the number of opportunities for cooperation.
On Wednesday 15th November, the delegation travelled in the morning to the extraordinary Oriental Land Sports Training Base in Zhujiajiao, for part one of the specialised seminar in sport presided by Vice Minister of Sport Mr Yang Shu'an. This was a unique opportunity for Chinese and EU colleagues to gain a better understanding to the policies and structure of sport in the two sides. It also started to identify significant synergies and potential areas for cooperation like athlete and coach exchanges.
In the afternoon the EU party transferred to the world-renown Shanghai Sport University for part two of the seminar. On this occasion, the EU experts and their Chinese counterparts delivered keynotes on a variety of sport-related topics. Mr Lara-Bercial provided an update on the current status of coaching in the EU and presented the outputs of CoachLearn and iCoachKids, two recent Erasmus+ co-funded projects led by LBU and ICCE. This included the presentation of commemorative copies of the European Sport Coaching Framework (ESCF) to all Chinese delegates as well as a tour of the iCK website which supports the development of youth sport coaches via online courses and materials. Both of these projects captivated the imagination of the Chinese colleagues and potential cooperation avenues have been opened.
Mr Lara-Bercial stressed the importance of this historic moment: “There are 400 million young people in China really keen to take part in sport. China will need to develop millions of coaches to cope with this demand. If the ESCF and iCoachKids could support this major overhaul we would be delighted”
In sum, after a very fruitful couple of days, multiple areas for potential cooperation between the EU and China in the field of sport were identified and the now existing people to people ties will strengthen the already existing institutional relationships so concrete actions and work plans. In this respect, Head of the Sport Unit of the European Commission Yves Le Losteque explained: “I think it’s been a terrific start. The foundation for future cooperation has been laid and we couldn’t be more grateful to both the EU and Chinese experts for their openness and insightful contributions”