From 11th to 12th September, 2014 the University of Rome Foro Italico hosted the 11th annual Conference and the General Assembly of the EAS network. The Conferece received the patronage of the Italian Presidency at the European Union, the Regione Lazio, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), and the Foro Italico Foundation. Its headline was “Dual Career Ambassadors for an Innovation Society”.
On behalf of the EAS Executive Committee, the EAS President Dr. Tibor Kozsla wellcomed the 68 participants from 42 institutions and 16 countries, followed by the Rector of the University of Rome Foro Italico Prof. Fabio Pigozzi, who is also the President of the International Federation of Sports Medicine (FISM) and a member of CONI. During the opening ceremony several representatives of the Italian Parliament, National and local government, and the President of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Mr. Giovanni Malagò emphazised the need for the implementation of Dual Career programmes in higher education institutions to help Olympic athletes combining their study and elite sport, which will ensure their future transition to labour market.
Following the opening speeches and presentations, during the General Assembly of the EAS Network the activity and financial reports of the Executive Committee were illustrated, marginal changes in the EAS Statute and Bye-Laws were approved, and candidates to the Presidency and Excecutive Committee were presented. The EAS members elected Prof. Laura Capranica (University of Rome Foro Italico, ITA) President, Mr. Joerg Foerster (Freie Universität Berlin, GER) Secretary General, Prof. Mojca Doupona-Topic (University of Ljubljana, SLO) Treasurer, and Dr. Ilvis Abelkains (University of Latvia, LAT), Mrs. Veronique Leseur (INSEP, FRA), Dr. Ole Keldorf (Elite Sport Academy Aarhus – ESAA, DEN), and Prof. Antonio Figueiredo (University of Coimbra, POR) members of the Executive Committeee. Still within the board, but without voting rights, the founding president Mr. Risto Kekitalo from Oulo Sports Academy (Oulo, FIN) and the past President Dr. Tibor Kozsla from Semmelweis University (Budapest, HUN).
The first day of the Conference included also a very special cultural experience of a guided tour to the historic Olympic competition area of the Foro Italico and a concert of the chorus AltaVoce.
Dual Career is getting an increasing importance at European sport policy and national levels. Stakeholders from education and sport systems are working on the implementation of the in September 2012 launched European Guidelines. Several speakers highlighted the need for raising awareness on this issue. Among others, two members of the Italian Parliament (MIP) Josefa Idem, Olympic Champion in Canoeing, former Minister in the Italian Government and Member of the Italian Senate, and Laura Coccia, Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and successful disabled track and field athlete, reported their difficulties in managing a dual career.
In the future, European student-athletes should not have to choose between sport and education, because member states have to implement dual career paths according to the „European Guidelines for Dual Career“. Accordingly, during the second day representatives of the Italian sport institutions presented the actual structures and programs to help athletes. Furthermore, the representatives from the European Commission, the Federation International du Sport Universitaire (FISU), the European University Sports Association (EUSA), the European Network of Academic Sport Services (ENAS), the Association of the Mediterranean Universities (UNI-MED) and the Institute National du Sport l´expertise et Performance (INSEP) in France actively participated in the Conference. These experts not only presented their institutions but also expressed their support to the aims of EAS to improve awareness on dual career for student athletes amongst academic institutions. After his presentation on EUSA Games as the biggest multisport event for students in Europe, Mr. Pisl, EUSA representative, presented a special commemorative EUSA award to the outgoing and incoming Presidents Dr. Kozsla and Prof. Capranica.
The conference also hosted the workshop of the European project „Winner Education model: developing dual career in higher education” supported by the Lifelong Learning Programme. The 10th EAS Conference and Assembly concluded with the selected presentations for the Bengt Nybelius Scholarship. At the closing Gala Dinner the 2014 Benght Nybelius Scholarship was awarded to Dr. Flavia Guidotti from Italy who together with colleagues made a systematic literature review about „dual career“ as a scientific subject in Europe. The special prize of the Jury was awarded to Mr. Morten Brammer Olesen from Denmark who investigated the „Academic Progressions of Student-Athletes“.
After two days of intense discussions and with a lot of new ideas, the participants celebrated the last evening under the great hospitality of the organizing committee and expressed their satisfaction with a well organized conference in the marvellous historical city of Rome, which had opened new perspectives and challenges in the work for the dual career of student athletes.