The EU Sport Forum 2019 was organised in Bucharest, Romania. IWGA CEO Joachim Gossow was invited to introduce and take part in a parallel session entitled ‘Challenges of less popular sports’.
“While we all agreed that the title of the session did not describe our sports very well, the discussion was very interesting and fruitful,” Gossow says. “It is always good to meet colleagues representing smaller international federations – and there are indeed many of those even amongst the Olympic Federations. Despite our sports being perceived as smaller, they are not small: millions of people around the world practise The World Games sports. It is good to learn from each other’s experiences in promoting the sports, which is ultimately what The World Games is all about.”
Another speaker in this parallel session was Wojciech Andrzejczak, Head Coach of the American Football club Remscheid Amboss. He has over a decade of experience in American football as player, coach, front-office executive and scout. American Football was an invitational sport at The World Games 2017.
“I think The World Games 2017 was a tremendous success for American Football in terms of media exposure, but also in terms of the project management. The preparation process leading to the event allowed Polish players and coaches to improve their skills and knowledge, and this has been transferred to the clubs. Equipment purchased then will serve the Polish National Team for several years, and last but not least the new Olympic Stadium in Wroclaw is one of the best venues for the sport in Europe.”
“American Football clubs and federations in Europe are very active in attracting new participants and fans. One key area in our activities is to increase the participation numbers through collaboration with schools, and promotion of flag football, a non-contact and therefore more inclusive version of our sport.”
With regard to the media, it was identified that social media is a key area. “We have to ‘fish where the fish are’. A lot of the leagues and teams produce high quality content that is attractive to millennials, as well as livestreaming their games in order to attract new fans and partners.”
“We ‘less popular sports’ have to work together to have a stronger voice, as well as be open to adapt and evolve,” concluded Andrzejczak.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 15-25 July 2021. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in the Games.