Reflections on the European Association for Sports Management (EASM) Conference 2017 (Maggligen and Bern, Switzerland)

Bob Olukoya is an MSc Sport Management graduate of Birkbeck, University of London and the inaugural head of the Birkbeck Sport Business Society. Bob practised law in the United Kingdom and later Nigeria before deciding to pursue a career in sport. 

Bob is a member of the European Association for Sport Management (EASM) and attended the 25th annual conference in Biel and Bern, Switzerland where he made presentations with other participants.

He has documented his experience below and made a case for more delegates from Birkbeck at the 26th edition in Malmo, Sweden.

Picture of Bob smiling.


The European Association for Sports Management IEASM) annual conference ( is the gathering of the great and the good in European sports administration, academia and beyond. Current and former athletes; sport administrators; sport governing bodies; international sport federations; students, the academia, sports equipment manufacturers, non-sport related professionals such as economists, accountants, bankers, etc were all brought together for the 25th edition of EASM. The first 5 days called ‘Students Seminar’ were dedicated to Masters (49 students) and PhD students (19) from all over the world (I met people from Australia, Brazil, Morocco, New Zealand and South Africa) while the remaining 4 days were dedicated to the Association’s business.

Student Seminar – Maggligen, Switzerland

This part of the conference started on 1st September 2017 at the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Sport in Magglingen, Biel, Switzerland. The Institute is situated 2,000 metres above sea level in the Jura Mountains accessible by either walking (1 hour – longer going up); driving or by cable car (funicular). The first evening started quietly with students getting to know each other; the impressive facilities at the Institute, the staff, and of course the bar! It was immediately obvious that representatives from British universities would be in the minority (1 representative each from Bournemouth University and Birkbeck, University of London). The Dutch were in the majority followed by the Germans; Belgians, Finns and Swedes. The rest of the weekend was spent preparing group presentations on why particular sports should remain in the Olympic programme for the 2020 and 2022 summer and winter games. In between these preparations and presentations, we made a road trip to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne with stop-overs at the Olympic Museum, Stade Pierre de Coubertin and Mason du Sport International (home of International federations). The highlights of the trip to Lausanne were the presentation by C. Dubi (Executive Director, Olympic Games); P. Fratter-Bardy (Head of summer sports) and N. Puig (Head, External Relations). Representatives of World Archery and International Bob and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) delivered other International Federation (IF) specific presentations. I presented a paper titled: “why Swimming should remain in the 2018 and 2020 Summer and Winter Olympics” together with Michelle Van Grefen, Peter Schreuder and Felix Schimanko

EASM Conference – Bern, Switzerland

The conference started with the well attended opening ceremony, keynotes speeches and get-together on Tuesday, 5 September 2017 at the impressive University of Bern auditorium and conference centre. It continued the next day at the same venue with more keynote speeches and parallel break-out sessions. The parallel nature of the presentations made it a difficult task to choose which to attend as all the sessions were relevant. However, for the first day, I choose the Sport Governance and Policy session with specific focus on the persistent failure of interventions to increase national sport participation levels, with England as the case study. The paper was delivered by Mike Weed of Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom. It was very enlightening especially as the topic was a recurring theme in our discussions here at Birkbeck.

The second day highlight for me was the Sport Facility Management session with specific focus on Venue Legacy of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.  This was delivered by Se Hee Choi of the Korea University, Republic of South Korea.  This was immediately followed by the EASM General Assembly where the new president of the Association was elected (Mr. Vassil Girginov of Brunel University). There were several relevant presentations on the third and final day but the highlight for most people, especially the students, was the workshop on ‘Swissness’ and the closing banquet which took place in the town of Gurten high up in the mountains. It took a 15 minutes ride in the cable car to get to the top of the mountain with impressive facilities.

It was a high value event especially for first timers with lots of intellectual, cultural, social and professional networking opportunities.  The 26th EASM will be hosted in 2018 by the city of Malmo in Sweden. The plea from the Swedish organizers is that more British representatives especially from Birkbeck will be appreciated. It is my candid opinion that Birkbeck students will benefit from this event especially as Brexit looms. The Students Union, Birkbeck Sport Business Society (BSBS) and the University authorities will do well to work out a funding regime to finance students’ participation just like the Dutch, Germans, Swedes and Belgians did.

Final note: My birthday was on 7th September, a day before the end of the conference. The students; tutors, delegates and organizers made it a memorable one for me despite their very tight schedule. I am grateful.


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