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The role of sport in times of crisis: jobs, integration

26.03.2014 - 11:00
Photo of Santiago Fisas Ayxelá holding football ball

In these tough times of crisis, all efforts must be made to support job creation and provide young people with key skills that will help them to find a job more easily. This is how we tackle youth unemployment in the long run.

Having been involved in sports all my life, as a player, captain and as a decision-maker, I believe it can have a strong impact economically and socially. Take the economic importance of sport in Europe: it can build skills for employability such as teamwork, leadership, self-confidence and communication. 

Sport creates jobs

We never think about it but sport plays an important role in our economy, with an annual added value of approximately 407 billion euros. But it’s not only about wealth creation, it’s about jobs. The sport sector employs, directly or indirectly, 15 million people across Europe. This is 5.4% of the working population! 

Sport facilitates integration in society 

I have always been struck by the socially-integrating power of sport in many areas. I had this dimension in mind when I drafted my report on developing a European approach to sports and I am happy to have proposed the creation of the European Sports Week. We hope to see this initiative starting to take place as from September 2015.

I remember when I visited a school in Parla, a suburb in Madrid, and a teacher came to tell me how one of the most difficult students she had became captain of the team and totally changed their attitude towards their studies Santiago Fisas Ayxelá MEP

Sport is also a unique channel for integration in society. The potential of sport in helping to get socially-vulnerable youngsters back on track is now widely recognised.

When I created school sports competitions in the Madrid region, the reaction of parents and teachers was incredible. Just to name one story, I remember when I visited a school in Parla, a suburb in Madrid, and a teacher came to tell me how one of the most difficult students she had became captain of the team and totally changed their attitude towards their studies.

Look at the amazing positive impact of the Paralympics in how disabled people are perceived nowadays in society. Sport integrates, and we know that during times of crisis, the risks of exclusion are bigger. 

Learning for life when practising sport

Sport can play a strong role in promoting skills and values that will be useful in a professional environment, and in life as a whole.

Take teamworking, self-confidence, leadership or knowing how to manage competition: there is a link between sport and employability

Take teamworking, self-confidence, leadership or knowing how to manage competition: there is a link between sport and employability; we should be talking more about this. We even see the method of Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United coach, studied in management schools!

As Captain of the Spanish golf team I learnt something very important: to know how to win but, even more important, to learn how to lose. By losing you learn how to recover from difficult situations, how to rebound and understand why you failed, to try to win next time.

If you have the right attitude, understanding why you were defeated can lead you to your next success. I think we can apply this to the difficult times that many people are living nowadays in Europe

If you have the right attitude, understanding why you were defeated can lead you to your next success. I think we can apply this to the difficult times that many people are living nowadays in Europe. Both in life and sport, it is important to never give up.

We believe in people. #believeinpeople @SantiagoFisas

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