Enhancing the development of martial arts serves as a lever for growth for the European regions

Evangelos Moumtzis
credit: quora

Greece (Brussels Morning) For years, competitive sports were closely associated with large gyms and sports academies located in the capitals of various European countries. This was because the major sports academies were established there, and most of the money and sponsorships were invested in these locations. However, recently, there has been a significant shift with increasing investments in infrastructure and sports centers outside the 2-3 major cities.

My position has always been clear: decentralization should be a goal for each government and the relevant sports authorities. The area where I have invested, Lamia, is a two-hour drive from Athens. I could have moved all my activities there. However, I believe that the talent and conditions I find in my city, along with the athletes and people, cannot be easily found elsewhere. Proof of this is the 13 athletes who will join me in participating in the next Jiu-Jitsu World Championship.

Νot always the best choice for the athlete

This trend is driven by several factors. Firstly, the overconcentration of the population in large cities creates a congested environment that can be detrimental to the athletes’ focus and progress. The intense and often unfair competition in these urban areas places immense pressure on athletes. Moreover, the hectic pace of life in big cities does not provide a conducive atmosphere for athletes to concentrate on their goals. As a result, there is a growing recognition of the benefits of developing sports facilities in smaller towns and rural areas. These regions offer a more balanced and supportive environment, enabling athletes to train with fewer distractions and better access to personalized attention. Consequently, the decentralization of sports development is becoming a strategic move to enhance the overall performance and well-being of athletes across Europe.

My personal experience as the coach of the Greek national team in Jiu-Jitsu, training athletes across the country and investing in locations like Lamia and Mykonos, has shown me that focusing sponsorships and athletic development solely in the capital leads to a significant loss of athletic and human potential present in the regions. By concentrating grants and development efforts only in major cities, we overlook the vast human/athletic capital of talent that exists in smaller towns and rural areas. These regions are home to dedicated and skilled athletes who often do not have access to the same opportunities as their urban counterparts. Investing in regional sports facilities and programs not only nurtures this untapped potential but also promotes a more balanced and inclusive approach to sports development.

Furthermore, regional investments can lead to the growth of local communities, creating a supportive environment that encourages participation in sports. This decentralization can also alleviate the pressures and limitations faced by athletes in overcrowded urban settings, allowing them to train and develop in more relaxed and focused environments. Ultimately, spreading resources more evenly across the country can enhance the overall quality and diversity of the national sports landscape, ensuring that talent from all regions can flourish and contribute to the country’s success in the international arena.

Paving the way to create champions

In recent years, more and more teams and sports clubs are choosing regional areas for their preparation and planning for the sports season. This trend raises a question: why, despite having superior sports facilities, venues, and funding, are major cities not selected for the critical, initial preparations of the season? The reasons are straightforward yet crucial.

In large cities, environmental and living conditions are often challenging. Athletes face numerous distractions that can hinder their focus and performance. Additionally, the attention given to athletes in terms of their psychological well-being and tranquility is often inadequate in urban settings. Major cities, with their bustling and hectic nature, do not provide the serene and supportive environment necessary for athletes to prepare effectively.

Regions outside the major urban centers offer a quieter, more focused atmosphere, free from the distractions and stressors of city life. This setting allows athletes to concentrate fully on their training and mental preparation. The calmer environment also contributes significantly to their psychological health, ensuring they are mentally and emotionally ready for the challenges of the competitive season.

Moreover, regional areas often provide a sense of community and support that is difficult to find in large cities. This nurturing atmosphere can be invaluable for athletes as they build their confidence and skills. Investing in these regions not only benefits the athletes but also stimulates local economies and fosters a broader interest in sports within the community.

In conclusion, the shift towards using regional areas for sports preparation reflects a deeper understanding of the holistic needs of athletes. It highlights the importance of a balanced approach that considers both physical training and mental well-being, ultimately leading to better performance and a more inclusive development of sports across the country.

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Evangelos Moumtzis is a public sector executive with ten years experience both in Greek Ministries of Defence and Interior Affairs. His studies combine business administration and IT security, having a BSc at Athens University of Economics & Business, plus MSc at University of Thessaly. Moreover Evangelos is a a well know pioneer in martial arts, as he is leader of the top three martial art academies in Greece with recognition worldwide though competition results. The above situation, makes a highly soft skills person with attributes like, leadership, teamwork and extroverted mind. He lives in Lamia, Greece while working for the regional government and ruining his martial arts academy.