The eighth edition of the European Athletics Young Leaders Forum – this year entitled Young Leaders Forum meets Allianz after a partnership with the German financial services giant – provided inspiration for a new generation of future leaders in the sport.
Four years after the last in-presence edition, more than 100 participants met in Munich between 17-21 August during the European Athletics Championships to discuss our sport's present and future, as well as find common points of interest with several other sports.
The welcome dinner the night before the official opening of the Forum was held in the Allianz Arena, home to the famous football club Bayern Munich, with an introduction by the European Athletics Council member Karin Grute Movin and was followed by a thought-provoking Q&A session with the Paralympian Markus Rehm.
The European Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov formally got proceedings underway on the opening day.
“We have here many examples of many participants that are already true leaders. You’re here to be a leader in the future. A good leader has to think of others, take decisions, be brave, enthusiastic, and be knowledgeable. You have to be close to your federations. I’m optimistic that our sport has a future because when you speak about Young Leaders you speak about the future,” commented Karamarinov.
“You can’t look at the future without understanding the past” was the theme of the traditional keynote speech by the World Athletics President Sebastian Coe on the future of athletics.
It was followed by a Q&A session with Coe and Karamarinov where Forum participants could ask questions and opinions about our sport.
A key part of the Forum were the discussions between participants from different countries which gave the young leaders an idea of how athletics work outside their own federations, and which are the best practices they can import into their organisations.
For the last two days, 80 participants from all the other sports joined the Forum and participated in the workshops and conferences, having the chance to understand what happens behind the scenes of an athletics championship and during the everyday life of our sport.
To date, athletics has been the only sport among the nine that made up the multi-sport European Championships that was staged in the Bavarian capital with a Young Leaders network and a biennial Young Leaders Forum.
Many of the future administrators and organisers from other sports also took away valuable ideas that could be applied after participating for the first time during this year’s Young Leaders Forum.
One of the most powerful sessions was one regarding safeguarding with Mathilde Grenet; the safe sports expert talked about her experience and gave important advice on how to prevent and react to abuse in sport.
How to keep young athletes in the sport was the main point of the Allianz Hackaton. The participants, divided into groups, had to develop a project that will end with the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and has the aim to keep people in sport and attract new ones.
The best project among those produced during the Young Leaders Forum will be chosen by Allianz and their internal team and will come to life in the next months.
The participants also had the chance to listen to speakers and find out about the European Athletics Leadership Programme, with the Programme’s Katrin Heyers and Nicola Orths giving presentations then taking questions about how to take part in the Programme and how to expand it in their own countries.
Former elite athletes Hannah England and Periklis Iakovakis – the pair also being leading members of the Athletes Committee – and former world champion Paula Radcliffe took part in a roundtable discussion regarding the needs and shortfalls of athletics, with many questions focussed on athletes and social media, and the role of the athletes in society.
“Stage Great Events to Engage and Inspire” was a session led by European Athletics Vice President Cherry Alexander and World Athletics Chair of Events & Competition Commission Jakob Larsen and provided advice to those participants directly involved with competition organisation.
Participants were also split up into groups and every group had a specific topic to discuss in a workshop so that they could attempt to collectively understand how athletics is developed in different countries, what works and doesn’t work for them, what can be applied in other parts of Europe and how this can help the growth of this sport, especially in Europe.
European Athletics First Vice President Jean Gracia presented European Athletics’ innovative I Run Clean anti-doping education programme, which has been in existance since 2017 which is now a trailblazer for other sports to emulate.
The last day of the Forum was dedicated to the management of the future European Championships Management Event Director Colin Hartley expanding on his personal experience in organising big sports events – which included the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships – and gave valuable tips and advice on the practical aspects of event organisation
Former Young Leader Špela Hus and European Athletics Development Coordinator Yannick Morard concluded the four days of intense activity in Munich by explaining how this year’s Young Leaders Forum was organised and what will be the next steps in developing the Forum in the future.