This year for the very first time two European countries will organise BeActive Beach Games. From 17th – 18th of August the beach games will take place on the urban beaches of the city of Riga, Latvia – Kipsala and Lucavsala, whilst from 7th – 8th of September – on the natural beach of Praia da Rocha at Portimao, Portugal. Based on the experience of organising the games, six European countries and two international sports organisations will jointly develop a model for accessible and inclusive beach games on different beaches – such as natural and formed artificially in urban areas, next to rivers or lakes. This will be done in the framework of the European Union’s Erasmus+ project aiming to promote sports whilst relaxing close to the waters as one of the most popular ways of spending free time during a summer period in Europe.

Europe is well known for its glamorous natural beaches stretching thousands of kilometres in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Latvia. As summer begins, artificial beaches are developed also in urban environments, in such cities as Paris, Bern, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, London or Copenhagen, also in Riga and the shores of rivers, lakes or canals are transformed into beaches. The president of the Latvian Sports Federations Council (LSFC) Mr Einars Fogelis highlights that each environment with little ingenuity and without any special investment can be used for relaxing in a physically active way.

He also points out that “The Beach Games in Riga will prove that concept – everyone will be welcomed to participate, and a special focus will be devoted on families and involvement of all its generations. Competitions and demonstrations along with an opportunity to try less-known games will be offered by the BeActive Beach Games with a total of 24 different types of grassroots sport that will be targeted at people of different ages, with different health conditions, physical capabilities or skills.”

The two-day event in Lucavsala and Kipsala Beach in Riga, Latvia will offer 5km and 10km runs and Nordic walking, beach volleyball (3 versus 3), skateboard, beach triathlon (shooting, swimming, running), beach handball, floorball (3 versus 3), beach tennis, dodgeball, crossminton, beach football. In addition, water sports will offer its participants competitions in swimming in open water, sailing, SUP boarding and aquathlon (running-swimming-running). Moreover, everybody will have a chance to try a certain field of sports for the first time under a guidance and supervision of a professional, including: bouldering, petanque, rope pulling and sitting volleyball, as well as activities in athletics will be specially organised for children.

BeActive Beach Games in Latvia will be also attended by the families from the project partner countries – Estonia, Lithuania, Spain and Portugal, and one of the Latvian families – will be awarded an opportunity for a paid trip for participation at the BeActive Beach Games in Portimao, Portugal.

Some of the reasons why Portimao, in Portugal, has become the first home of the #BeActive Beach Games in Portugal – It has won the title of the European City of Sport in 2019 and will be accompanied by cultural programmes throughout the year by a number of more than hundred sports events for which the city will provide infrastructure and logistical support. In addition, Portimao has a great experience of organising world-class sports events: World Cup competitions in gymnastics, F1 Powerboat World Championships, Superbike World Championships, FIA GT1 World Championship, European Endurance Aquabike Championships and other international events. On a 1.5 km-long Praia da Rocha beach on the Atlantic coast, where games will take place, an independent sport infrastructure is set up annually during the summer season.

Over the last decade, the involvement of national, local, non-governmental and private organisations in promoting active forms of life has increased, however it has not changed public habits in Europe significantly. The Eurobarometer survey for 2017 shows – 60% of those surveyed do sports irregularly or never, and this trend is negative compared to the previous survey.

BeActive Beach Games are one of the steps to fight the sedentary way of life, looking for new ways to turn people to active lifestyles in different environments. One of the goals of the Beach Games – to expand the #BeActive movement by actively offering ideas for an accessible, inclusive and exciting type of physical activity in a new environment – on the various beaches in Europe.

In the project following organisations have united – Latvian Sports Federation Council, as a project coordinator and 6 country and 2 international sports organisations – Estonian Beach Sports Federation, Lithuanian Union of Sports Federations, Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth, Union of Sports Federations in Catalonia, as well as the International Sport for All Association and the International Sport and Culture Association. In cooperation between all organisations, a model for inclusive and accessible beach games will be established by the middle of 2020, including a manual for game organisers, as well as methodological materials to be used for both individual and organisational purposes.