Diário As Beiras – Future of national sport is at risk due to pandemic

Diário As Beiras - Future of national sport is at risk due to pandemic


The pandemic stopped competitions, suspended them, revolutionized them, and affected, more than any other, the aspect of training, which, for the most part, lost practitioners and had to reinvent itself in the face of the challenges imposed by the covid-19.

The warning was given in December 2020 by the president of the Olympic Committee of Portugal (COP), who, in an interview with the Lusa agency, revealed “a very significant break” in the indicators of sports practice “in a country that already had them down”, particularly in the training levels and in the flag modalities.

“We estimate it to be around 52% […]. Whether or not these athletes are going to be recovered or are going to migrate to other sports, we still need some time to have a more stable picture and be able to draw some conclusion from there. But the risk is enormous. The risk of losing athletes, of course, which needs to be tackled quickly, under penalty of having a very serious problem here in the long term ”, estimated José Manuel Constantino.

The concern expressed by the president of the COP is now expressed in figures: the number of young federated sportsmen has dropped to less than half, practically a year after the suspension of training competitions, due to the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, with football being particularly affected.

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), responsible for the national football and futsal competitions, suffered the biggest breakdown, counting this season with a total of 39,471 federates, 33,922 in football and 5,549 in futsal, a drop of more than 75 % of the number of subscribers in 2019/20.

Last season, which was interrupted in March 2020, according to data provided to Lusa, in January, the FPF totaled 159,318 young federated athletes, mostly soccer players (132,835), while 26,483 played futsal.

But the FPF was not the only federative entity to suffer a strong setback in training, due to the covid-19 pandemic: the Handball Federation of Portugal registered a 54% decrease in the number of young people enrolled (6,240 athletes in 2020/21, compared to 13,553 pre-pandemic), while basketball 'lost' approximately 10,000 young practitioners (42%), with 14,050 enrolled in 2020/21, compared with 24,089 last season.

The proportion is similar in young volleyball players (46%), whose national federation has 27,156 registered, compared to 49,980 last season, and roller hockey (50%), currently with 2,875, compared to 5,764 in 2019 / 20.

In total, of the almost 252,704 enrolled in these five federations, which had soccer players and the five main sports halls, 89,792 young athletes remain.

The 'hole' is even more noticeable at the club level: four out of five young judokas have left Académica, while the main rugby clubs in Alentejo – CR Évora and RC Montemor – have lost almost half of the youth in the training levels due to the pandemic of covid-19.

But there is more: ABC / UMinho, a history of Portuguese handball, had about 400 athletes last year and, in 2021, it does not reach a quarter of that number, the “Os Pelezinhos”, a reference emblem in the football formation in Setúbal , had a ratio in the number of practitioners, losing almost 100 footballers of the formation, and the Clube Náutico de Ponte de Lima saw some kayakers 'flee'.

In a discouraging scenario, aggravated by the second confinement currently in force, there are, however, signs of hope for the future of national sport: they are, for example, the Clube Fluvial Portuense (CFP), which grew in number of practitioners in 2020, the Felner Academy, whose number of tennis players increased during the pandemic, or Fonte do Bastardo, which is beginning to recover volleyball players 'lost' due to fears inherent in the covid-19.

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