#ESP2021: Interview with the Rector of the Lithuanian Sports University Prof. Dr. Diana Rėklaitienė

Lithuanian Sports University (LSU) is one of the hosts of the upcoming European Sport Platform 2021 and the CHAMP project conference. We talked to the Rector of the LSU, Prof. Dr. Diana Rėklaitienė, to learn more about the decision the host the event and the collaboration between the grassroots sport movement and Universities.

What inspired you, and the University, to host the European Sport Platform 2021?

Lithuanian Sports University is the only higher education institution in Lithuania that offers 19 degree study programmes related to sport at all three study cycles. Here at the University, we have students not only from Lithuania but also from other countries and these are not just limited to the EU countries. Our mission is to contribute to the sustainable development of society through international-level research and academic excellence. This means that we also have a mission to be experts and leaders in our country and help in solving global sports-related issues in the state and society, show the importance of sport for the development of a sustainable society and propose the best solutions and strategies. And as we know, ENGSO is an important organization of a wide profile, uniting sport organizations from 34 European countries and having the mission to represent, develop and advocate for voluntary-based sport in Europe. We think it is important to use the opportunity to bring together responsible Lithuanian personalities and institutions to exchange best practices with the experts in sports from other countries. The problems highlighted by ENGSO - good governance, gender equality, match-fixing, social inclusion, sustainable financing of grassroots sport - are also relevant for Lithuania and we need to share our experience and knowledge if we want to tackle these problems effectively. I think that the event European Sport Platform 2021 is mutually beneficial - both for Lithuania to introduce our country to the international community, and to have the opportunity for Lithuanian sports professionals to participate in an event of this scale.

How important is the collaboration between ENGSO, grassroots sport organisations and Sport Science Universities such as LSU? What is the role of LSU, and how can sport science contribute to the development of grassroots sport in Europe?

All organizations working in the sport sector or for it have their own missions, but they cannot fulfil all the functions and overall mission of the sport on their own. That’s why it is so important to collaborate, understand and support each other. Universities train specialists for all sport areas - from coaches, instructors, PE teachers, managers to sports physicians. After graduating from the university, these people stay in the sport sector and create a system for the future. Depending on what knowledge, values and competencies they bring from the university, they will create such a future for sport.

Universities also carry out scientific research, much of which is applied research that needs to be supported and benefited by the sports sector. Lithuanian Sports University has research teams which conduct research projects and activities in the areas of management and economics of sport and leisure; methodology of sports and exercise training; adapted physical activity; muscles, motor control and health; rehabilitation; physical education - this means that sports organizations would benefit from our targeted research helping coaches, instructors, managers to motivate people to play sports, to be physically active, to do it in a healthy, fair and efficient way, to organize sports activities and events.