#športajmoinberimo (“#letsplaysportandread”): National Cross-sectoral Program to Promote Reading among Young Athletes

What to read to “smell like sports”? Recommendations (page in Slovenian)

  • During the European Week of Sport 2020, the Program was piloted in the public libraries in Koper, Maribor and Kranj in the form of a conversation between top-level and young athletes about reading and books.
  • Events 2021:  Koper 10. 9., Kranj 14. 9., Murska Sobota 17. 9., Maribor 28. 9., Novo mesto 30. 9.

The starting points for the National Cross-Sectoral Program to Promote Reading among Young Athletes (#športajmoinberimo) are two key documents, namely the National Strategy for the Development of Reading Literacy 2019-2030, adopted by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia in December 2019, and the Recommendations and Standards for Public Libraries from 2018. The program is designed in cooperation between the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, the National Education Institute Slovenia, the Center for Reading Literacy Promotion at the Maribor Public Library, the Slovenian Book Agency and the Olympic Committee of Slovenia – Association of Sports Federations (OCS-ASF). The long-term cooperation of the Hockey Skating Club Maribor and the Maribor Public Library, which resulted in the Hockey Reading Lineup - the award-winning program for the introduction of innovative services for users - provides the practical basis for planning the program.

Young people (age 15-19 years) who spend most of their free time in sports activities are the target group in the implementation of the National Cross-Sectoral Program to Promote Reading among Young Athletes(#športajmoinberimo) (further referred to as the Program). According to publicly available data on all Slovenia’s categorized athletes, this target group represents 57%. There are 7,084 categorized athletes of which 4,036 belong to this age group. Among all registered athletes (according to the data on the OCS-ASF website, there are 59,538), 39% belong to the target group (data obtained on August 7, 2020 from the website:http://www.olympic.si/sportniki/registracija-in-kategorizacija (in Slovenian)).

Data on the lives of young Europeans, which are available on the website of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, provide a wider picture of this generation. In the lives of young men and young women, sport has an important place (55% male and 53% female do sports at least once a week), followed by reading (45% read more than 5 books a year). This generation’s lives are strongly influenced by the Internet (96% young men and 100% young women use the Internet every day), social networks (82% young men and 98% young women use social networks every day) and communication via the Internet (47% young men and 72% young women use the Internet for telephony or video calls). (The figures provided are for the15-year-olds, as they are linked to the variable representing the level of completed education (after reviewing the data for 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds, we found that the discrepancies are minimal and these data are sufficient to draw the characteristics of this target group)).

The Program #športajmoinberimo (“#letsplaysportandread”) outlines seven key elements:

1. We want to create an environment for young athletes in which reading books is a part of their development, enabling them to better and more easily, more successfully and more effectively balance sports and their academic (school) and personal life, and to lay building blocks for their future life. The connections between family, school, club, team and library can create the appropriate stimulating environment.
2. We want to influence young athletes' attitudes towards reading and raise the awareness that reading literacy is a fundamental ability to acquire and create new knowledge for their personal, academic and sporting needs.
3. We want to introduce young athletes to reading as a skill which they can improve with training. By practicing reading, they can influence the development of their brains, and thus, they release those reserves that will help them to be even better in both sport and academics.
4. Current research highlights the importance of reading in the development and functioning of the brain and in shaping the mindset of an individual, which can have a key impact on young athletes’ sporting, academic and personal life. In this context, we also want to make them aware of the impact of screen technology on their academic, sporting and personal life.
5. We want to introduce young athletes to reading books as an integral part of preparation for competitions, giving them the opportunity to progress in their sporting, academic and personal careers. They learn about reading not only as a leisure activity, but as a technique that gives them the opportunity to make such progress. We give priority to group reading in various forms and to discussing what we have read together.
6. We provide individual reading tips for young athletes.
7. We want to make reading books an essential part of the sports preparation process and training, also as a support in the preparation for competitions. Through this Program of promoting reading among young athletes, the model of the training process consists of four pillars:
a. Information/knowledge about the chosen sport
b. Information/knowledge about physical fitness
c. Information/knowledge on healthy sports nutrition
d. Information/knowledge on psychological preparation or pre-preparation for psychological preparation - training in concentration, focus, cooperation, awareness of emotions, empathy, etc. (i.e. sports intelligence).