PtG Article 28.08.2023

Pioneers share success stories about athlete influence at SAPIS conference 

International speakers will share their own experiences of successful athlete representation, debate the rights and influence of athletes, and reflect on future directions of sports governance at the upcoming SAPIS conference in Leuven, Belgium, on 28 September 2023.

Futsal player, Natalia Orive Siviter, has built up a thriving women’s athlete association in Spain from the ground up through close communication and member dialogue. Kate Allenby, a former Olympian, has for three decades fought to convince the leaders of modern pentathlon to consult athletes when frequently changing competition formats – most recently when horse riding was suddenly removed from the sport.  

And in Brazil, Rafael Lane, director of the Brazilian athlete advocacy group Atletas pelo Brasil has mobilised athletes to put pressure on policy makers to increase public funding of social sports projects and give higher priority to amateur sports. 

All three athlete representatives will share their stories at the upcoming SAPIS conference on 28 September 2023 in Leuven, Belgium, as the conference gathers athlete representatives and other key stakeholders to present and debate key findings from the EU-funded SAPIS project on how to strengthen athletes’ influence on sport policies.

See the full conference programme here

The list of experts and stakeholders include:

  • Natalia Orive Siviter, president of the International Women’s Futsal Players Association (AJFSF)  
  • Kate Allenby, former Olympian, MBE
  • Rafael Lane, executive director, Atletas pelo Brazil
  • Matthew Graham, interim executive director, World Players Association
  • Lorenz Fiege, research associate, German Sport University Cologne
  • Matteo Zacchetti, policy officer, EU Sports Unit
  • Katarzyna Biniaszczyk, coordinator, European Parliament Sports Group
  • Valentina Maria Colangelo, project officer, European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)
  • Frank Hendrickx, professor, KU Leuven

Backed by the EU Erasmus+ programme, the ‘Strengthening Athlete Power in Sport’ project (SAPIS) has united athlete groups and academics to analyse how to strengthen the influence and representation of athletes in sports governing bodies.

Over three years, the SAPIS project partners have conducted literature reviews to map existing best practices, interviewed athlete representatives, sports officials, and advocacy groups across Europe and beyond, and they will present some of the most important findings at the conference. Project partners also distribute findings through regional conferences to facilitate dialogue between key stakeholders.

Register now

Participation is offered free of charge for the first 50 registered participants and there are still a few free seats left. Subsequent registrations will be charged EUR 70 which covers: 

  • All programme activities
  • Print versions of the SAPIS good practice guide and the final report
  • Coffee breaks and lunch

All participants are also invited to join in a networking dinner after the conference for the price of EUR 65.

The conference is co-hosted by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Ethics and Regulation in Sport (ICERiS) at KU Leuven and takes place at the Faculty Club, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Register for the conference here

See the full conference programme here

Download the good practice guide

PtG Publication June 2023
Strengthening Athlete Power in Sport - A guide to opening new ways in sports governance

Read more about the SAPIS project


Strengthening Athlete Power in Sport (SAPIS)