The European Athletics manifesto - the written declaration of the intentions, motives and views of our organisation - is entitled 'Your Sport for Life'.
The manifesto is for those closely associated with European Athletics, the Congress (Member Federation leaders), the Council, the Executive Board, the Commissions and the Head Office. It is useful, though, for all external stakeholders of our sport.
The purpose of our manifesto is to provide the foundation for a shared understanding of, on the one hand, who we are and what we believe in, what we are doing and what we are aiming to achieve, and on the other hand, how we communicate.
In other words, it functions as a constant reminder about speaking “with one voice” and acts as a base and guide for all that we do.
Since its establishment in 1970, European Athletics has served its Member Federations by working to promote the sport of athletics (including track & field, cross country, road running, race walking and mountain running) throughout Europe.
Its role includes staging championships and elite competitions, which provide opportunities for Europe’s top athletes to excel, showcase the sport, drive public interest in athletics and create the income necessary for other activities. It also includes leading the now 51 Member Federations and supporting their work in their countries as they reach out to engage more people and deliver all the forms and benefits of athletics.
The brand of European Athletics – in other words the values, symbols and meanings associated with the organisation and the sport – is an important tool for talking about and driving work in both these areas and, above all, strengthening the desired image of our sport.
To maximise the value of any brand it is necessary for those involved to understand and consistently communicate it so that audiences acquire the same understanding. This applies to athletics regardless of whether we are trying to sell tickets for an event, reporting results, promoting a programme or addressing an important issue.
The text below outlines the key elements of the European Athletics brand. It contains the messages and agreed wording that Member Federation communications managers should know and use in their day to day work. It also contains an overview of the European Athletics strategy and the 2016-2019 programme for delivering the strategy.
These messages will be packaged in different ways for presentation to various audiences, both by European Athletics and by others working for the good of the sport. But it is vital that they are well understood and, recognising the challenges linked to translation, communicated with wording as close to the original meaning as possible.
When we speak about values we need to be aware that there are values inherent in the sport of athletics and the values that drive our organisations (European Athletics, the Member Federations and clubs).
The Values of Athletics
* Fair Play and Sportsmanship
* Personal Development
* Physical Fitness
* Healthy Lifestyle
This set of values helps to defines what is good and special about our sport. It is recognised that other sports share many of the same values but the design and the delivery of athletics emphasises these and demonstrates that for us these are more than words -- they are central to what we do.
* Social and Environmental Responsibility
This set of values indicates the ideals European Athletics is striving for as it works to operate and develop the sport of athletics in Europe. By its example, European Athletics hopes to lead its Member Federations to respect the same values in their work.
'To grow our sport by leading, inspiring and enabling every European to enjoy a loyal relationship with athletics and receive its benefits for life”
This simple statement is meant to give our stakeholders and the public a clear sense of what drives European Athletics and what it and its Member Federations are working towards.
The mission is at the heart of the strategy but it is not in itself the strategy or the plan for implementing the strategy. The test of any decision or activity should be 'Is what we are doing in line with this mission? Is it contributing to achieving the mission?'
'Your Sport for Life'
This slogan is a short, memorable phrase that summarises our brand proposition and positioning.
The demand of modern consumers, especially young people, is for choice. “Your Sport” implies that there are many possible forms of engagement with athletics – health and fitness enthusiast, elite athlete, coach, competition official, club volunteer, federation leader, spectator, television viewer, internet user, etc. – and that from any combination of these each individual’s relationship with the sport can be customised to meet his or her current interests and needs.
European Athletics’ mission is to have a life-long relationship with every European, through different and changing activities in our sport – from competing as a junior or elite athlete to working as an official, and this is reflected in the “for Life” element of the slogan. There is also a double meaning as the values of athletics – personal development, fitness, healthy lifestyle, education, social and environment responsibility, etc. – all imply that a personal relationship with athletics will add to the quality of life.
The European Athletics logo (see top of this page) is an attractive symbol that comprises three arcs, each representing one of the basic components of athletics: running/walking, jumping and throwing. The curve and positioning of the arcs lead the eye in three dimensions and create a feeling of movement. The result is best described by the word “dynamic,” which, of course, is often used to describe the sport as well.
The strong blue and yellow colours are meant to symbolise Europe, while the equally strong orange represents the sport of athletics.
One of the starting points for the design of the logo was how European Athletics unites three groups – Member Federations, athletes and fans – across Europe through the sport of athletics. As the arcs can also be seen as lanes on three running tracks, the logotype is sometimes referred to as “United Tracks.”
In 2008, the “Your Sport for Life” slogan was added below the logotype for use on the website and many other situations to give greater prominence to the strategy of using the sport’s values to engage current and new audiences. The orange colour of the slogan indicates that these apply to athletics as a whole, emphasising European Athletics leadership of the sport in Europe.
The central challenge European Athletics over the coming decade will be to increase the relevance of athletics, both to individual Europeans and within European society. This means engaging more and more people and adding something meaningful to their lives.
In other words, we in athletics must deliver on our “Your Sport for Life” promise.
To do this we must first of all ensure that the sport is led and governed well and then we must embrace change where it is needed.
From a practical communications point of view we must effectively engage a wide range of audiences about what must remain constant – our values and, particularly, the integrity of the sport – and about the opportunities for each individual within the diverse ways that athletics can be experienced. This means using the appropriate channels and tools available.
Only by building greater awareness, popularity and loyalty are we likely to attract the additional support from governments, the media, commercial partners and volunteers we need to achieve any of the specific targets that we set.
Increasing relevance will involve work to build on two areas that are already strengths for athletics: 1) high-performance athletics and 2) the community of individuals actively engaged in some aspect of athletics. We call this our “Twin-Pillar” strategy.
This is the area that most people in athletics are familiar with and understand well. It is clearly strength that the sport’s showcase events attract media attention, governmental support and commercial partnerships. At the international level and for most of our Member Federations, staging these events and preparing the athletes for them are the core business of athletics, the pillar that supports the sport.
To continue our success in this area the key issues that the sport, led by European Athletics, must address include:
* Integrity – Athletics has long been a leader in the fight against doping. Maintaining this position, becoming more effective and communicating about our efforts are fundamental to the credibility of our sport.
* The International Competition System – Top priority is to provide talented athletes with opportunities to excel by offering the best competition possibilities organised in a logical calendar. At the same time, major events, one-day meetings and other new competitions must be commercially successful and to do this they must keep up with the ever-increasing expectations of the media, sponsors and audiences.
* Facilities – Around Europe, the stadia required for international competitions are under the threat of disappearing and local government and other owners must be convinced to reverse this trend. For many countries, the provision of the well-equipped facilities and training halls required for high performance athletics and grass roots activities is a priority.
* Athlete Development – This includes all aspects of identifying, training and supporting talented athletes as they move along the performance pathway. The top-class performances across all athletics disciplines and the strengthening the overall performance level of athletics in Europe must create the stars that athletics, like any other sport, needs to attract the attention of large audiences, the media and the sponsors.
Although high-performance athletics is a valuable product, our sport will always be in a constant battle with other sports and other entertainment opportunities. Success in this area can never be taken for granted. Real work is required to address the various issues and hard choices need to be made.
Our vision is that these efforts will lead to a future in which anticipating the next important athletics competition on television, computer, mobile device or any other electronic or printed media becomes an important part of the lives of more and more Europeans.
The Athletics Community
The strength of athletics as a participation sport is built on the sport’s simplicity, its accessibility and its values. In Europe we also profit from a strong organisational structure of Member Federations, clubs and other grassroots organisations. Although under-exploited in many countries, these are real differentiators and a comparative advantage.
Athletics has proven to be capable of engaging a wider range of active participants and supporters, thereby creating a stronger community than in many other sports.
To fully capitalise on these advantages initiatives will be required in the following:
* Youth/Schools We must engage future generations and provide them with positive, life-enhancing experiences – whether competitive achievements or simply having fun and getting fit. Of course, athletics is up against other sports and the many choices young people to spend their time so we must be well organised and creative.
* The Running Movement – We must re-connect to the runners, by far biggest group in athletics. They are diverse in their motivation, commitment, needs, likes and dislikes but in most cases running is important in their lives. We must offer them quality services for their encouragement.
* Club Systems - Although systems and circumstances vary from country to country, the main structures for athletics activities are the more than 20,000 European athletics clubs and other grassroots organisations... Strengthening the national systems will help for clubs to deliver more and better services to young people, runners and other groups, and to attract additional resources.
* Volunteers – Like many sports, athletics depends on volunteers and the value of all the sport’s television and sponsorship contracts is dwarfed by the value of the time given by individuals of all ages to clubs, events and federations. As a sport, we must be aware of how we manage and renew this resource, particularly among young people, because there are many factors that will erode it.
There is a trend for the agendas of governments, commercial companies and the European Union to embrace values similar to those of athletics. To capitalise on this we must be pro-active as opportunities will emerge for federations, clubs and others in our sport to attract more resources. There must also be changes in the culture of athletics at different levels on how we provide services to different groups.
Our vision is that strengthening the Athletics Community leads to athletics being recognised as offering relevance to individuals and society that goes beyond the elite pathway and showcase events, and that the activities involved attract the resources to strengthen our organisational structure at all levels.
The programme for delivering the Twin-Pillar strategy from 2015 to 2019 comprises actions in five areas: 1) Member Federations, 2) Commercial Strength, 3) Athletes, 4) Competition and 5) Relevance.
The priorities in this area will be measures that aim to increase the financial stability and operational competence of federations.
* A strategy and support measures to assist eligible federations in accessing European Union project funding for appropriate projects;
* A comprehensive survey of all Member Federations to build understanding of their strengths, challenges and development needs;
* A project to audit the anti-doping efforts of Member Federations, national anti-doping agencies and others in each country to improve effectiveness and credibility;
* A European Athletics support programme, coordinated with the IAAF, customised for each Member Federation and aimed at e.g.
o strengthening club systems,
o developing sustainable business models,
o robust anti-doping programmes;
* Communications and lobbying by the European Athletics President and Council members and other ambassadors to assist Member Federations in accessing support from their governments and other national agencies for the development of the sport including its facilities.
The priorities in this area will be to tap the best minds available for their ideas and invest in measures that will alter European Athletics’ business model by creating new visibility and value.
* Empower a new agency to manage the sales of European Athletics sponsorship rights;
* New partnerships to create and deliver commercially attractive events;
* Public research to understand what audiences and participants think of athletics and what they want (as opposed to what we think they want);
* A professionally designed PR, digital and social media strategy;
* Special measures to promote athletics in the years when the Olympic Games or World Championships are staged outside Europe;
* Aggressive support for potential and confirmed host cities for European Athletics events.
The priorities in this area will be measures that give a better deal to talented athletes by increasing the opportunities and support they need to excel and at the same time demonstrate their commitment to the sport and its values.
* Financial incentives to attract the best athletes to the European Athletics Championships;
* European only events in one-day meetings;
* New competition and financial opportunities for European U23 athletes;
* Targeted performance initiatives for Europe’s weaker disciplines;
* Scholarships to support the post-career development of elite athletes;
* Enhanced anti-doping education leading to a “driver’s license” to compete for all youth, junior and U23 athletes;
* Increased use of athlete ambassadors for promoting European Athletics events and programmes.
The priorities in this area will be to work closely with the IAAF and other stakeholders to restructure the international competition system and to deliver measures to help organisers increase the attractiveness their competitions.
* Logical annual calendar with a clear narrative linking European one-day meetings and championships.
* Fully integrated major events system (including youth, junior and U23 age groups);
* Restructured European Team Championships;
* Improved timetables and event presentation techniques at championships and other meetings in Europe;
* Support for new and special events:
* Small nations event in years with no European Team Championships,
* Street and beach athletics events,
* Europe vs. USA match
* European Half Marathon Championships,
* European Relays.
The priorities in this area will be to develop programmes to reach new audiences, attract new partners and realise the benefits that our leading federations are already enjoying.
* Expanded services for joggers, recreational runners and serious club runners to make them feel part of our sport;
* Improved school and club programmes to introduce children to athletics and retain them in our sport;
* Improved links with the Masters Athletics movement;
* Programmes to help federations and clubs serve the health and fitness markets;
* Young volunteers programme linked to employability that supports other activities in athletics.