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Family Cup - a new idea of "Sport for Everybody"

eng_01_t.jpgIt was eleven years ago that a group of people organized for the first time in Poland the skiing championships "Family Cup", and at that time nobody thought that they would become an event which will be held regularly and gain a great popularity among Polish people. Today it has the patronage of the President of the Polish Republic and to a great extent it is sponsored by the Ministry of Sport.

Family Cup championships are held all year round and involve sports like alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboard, mountain cycling, tennis and swimming, that is the sports which can be done by both children and adults. They have a status of amateur championships of Poland, and are attended by those who consider sport to be the best form of relaxation and a way of taking care of your health.

The event is held all over Poland - in the south of Poland in the mountains and in the north in seaside resorts and in the region of The Great Lakes which are situated in the neighborhood of "the green lungs of Europe". In this way, they promote not only sport but also the most attractive from the point of view of tourism regions of Poland.

Family Cup is an idea for a modern model of mass recreation which is based on the presumption that it is family life that develops healthy life style habits. People's families support school in teaching how to stay healthy and encouraging to do regular physical exercises. This model also fulfils a very important social function, which is often emphasized by sociologists, experts in education and representatives of the Church - it creates stronger family links, enables parents and children to spend more time together, builds partner relationships between them.

Family Cup stresses achievements of families which are made up of results reached by three generations of families - grandparents, children and grandchildren. Family classifications are particularly cherished, which means that individual competition, which is present almost everywhere, is kept in the shadow. Thanks to this, the championships Family Cup have a nice friendly atmosphere of meetings in which many generations take part, and just participating in them is more important than winning. Nowadays, when Poland belongs to the European Union, there is a chance for this alternative form of "Sport for everybody" to become an international event. Organizations and associations which would be interested in informational materials, regulations and co-operation with the inventors of the idea of Family Cup are welcome to contact us.




eng_03.jpgThe winter Family Cup championships, which include giant slalom, cross-country skiing and snowboard giant slalom was held in the season 2006/2007 for the twelfth time. It is the most popular skiing event in Poland, in which 1,000 families take part /over 5,000 participants/. Its aim is to propagate not only skiing as such, but other forms of winter tourism and recreation. Although in Poland there are no slopes which are Alpine in character, in the Bieszczady Mountains, the Tatra, the Beskidy or the Sudety there are a great number of places suitable for recreational skiing. In recent years a number of modern ski resorts have been created which have been promoted by the Family Cup publication "The Ski Atlas of Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia". It is estimated that over 2 million people in Poland ski for recreation. The main sponsor of the championships is the company INTERSPORT as well as Salomon, Marker, Tecnica, Völkl and Karcher. In the giant slalom the participants are divided into nine age categories - the youngest are below 8, the oldest over 56. In the cross-country competitions the youngest category is for children below 10 and the oldest participants are over 61. The distances to be covered range from 2 to 10 kilometers. In snowboard, which is practiced mainly by young people, there are three age categories only. In skiing, in the final classification results of three members of the family are taken into account, while in snowboard - of two.


eng_05.jpg"Having competitions like Family Cup, we don't have to worry about the future of cycling in Poland", said Wojciech Walkiewicz, the chairman of the Polish Cycling Association. It was here that some outstanding Polish representatives started their careers, including Maja Wloszczowska, who represented Poland at the Olympic Games. Their successes contribute to the popularity of mountain cycling among young people. In 2006 the competition has been held for the eleventh time. There are usually about 3,000 families in the championships and the participants are divided into nine age categories /from 10 to 60 year old/. Women are divided into five age categories. The classification is made up of results of two members of each family. For the finals the organizers choose the most beautiful routes in Poland - in 2004 the finals were played in Elk in the Mazury Lake District, and in 2005 & 2006 in the Swietokrzyskie Mountains in central Poland. The main sponsor of the event in 2007 edition is the company INTERSPORT.

eng_06.jpgOne day we analyzed biographies of two hundred once famous tennis players in order to find out what the beginnings of their career were. It turned out that in 65% of cases their first coaches had been their relatives. In most cases they were their parents, their siblings, although sometimes they were their grandparents. Cases of Rod Laver, Chris Evert, Ivan Lendl, Martina Hingis, Tim Henman or the Sanches family can serve as examples. In Poland, the best players also started their careers from the family passion /e.g. Wojciech Fibak/ . The Family Cup tournaments are played in mixed and doubles only. There are usually about 500 families in them, which is a big number if you take the overall popularity of the sport into consideration. The championships are sponsored by a group of companies including Völkl and Dunlop.

In 2007 the competitions in swimming will be held for the firts time. In this year there will be only 8 competitions, but our aspiration is to expand this number to 16 regional championships in whole Poland + 1 national final in the year 2008.


Who can take part?
eng_08.jpgThe detailed regulations, which describe who can participate in the competition have been worked out together with the competitors themselves. A family team is made up of children, their parents and grandparents, and the composition of such a team is optional, i.e. it could be a couple with their child, grandparents and their grandson, a pair of siblings etc. - depending on the discipline. According to the regulations, aunts, uncles, nephews etc. cannot belong to the team.
In the domestic version of the championships, volunteers who are Polish residents, either permanent or temporary, who do no hold any sports license, except for the children below 12 can take part in the events. Those who have been professional competitors have to undergo a period of suspension, the length of which depends on the person's age and the discipline they specialized in. It is possible for whole families to take part in the event, however, before entering for the championships the family has to declare whose results should be taken into account in the final family classification. All the others' results will be classified individually.


Every two weeks, the most popular TV channel - Channel 1, presents a short, 15-20 minute report from the Family Cup championships. The reports, which are broadcast in the prime time, are accompanied by interviews with participants of the events. This is due to the fact that Polish TV is responsible for the media coverage of the competitions. Another institution which is involved in propagating the idea is Channel 1 of the Polish Radio, but the championships are covered also by local press, radio and TV stations which focus on the local Family Cup events. All participants can find the latest scoring, as well as the regulations and schedules in the bimonthly "The Sports Style". The Family Cup Publishers also have their own web page and co-operate with different internet portals. Promotion of family sport is also included in the statute of the Skiing-Tennis Journalists' Club "Media".

Nowadays the Family Cup competitions are in 30-40% financed by the Ministry of Sport, and the remaining 60-70% are donations, a part of which comes from Family Cup Publishers. In recent years, the contribution of the state has grown considerably, which is due to two facts: firstly, the Family Cup competitions coincide with the prevailing government policy in the area of mass sport, which has been confirmed by the parliamentary debate concerning the assessment of the condition of Polish sport after the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. On the other hand, in Poland, like in other European countries, it has been noted that big multinational corporations have been less and less interested in mass recreation, just the opposite, they are more willing to promote their brands by sponsoring professional sport and Olympic events. The budget of Family Cup consists of three parts: one third is to be spent on awards and gifts for all participants, one third on expenditure connected with media, and one third on administration costs. The annual budget, encompassing on average 45 events /skiing and snowboarding - 17, mountain cycling - 18, tennis -10, is about 300,000 - 400,000 Euro.

The government of the Polish Republic has accepted the state strategy of development till 2012. One of the main aims is to promote mass sport, which has been stated to be an important factor contributing to the prevention of illnesses and to the good condition of national health. The basic principle of the strategy is enabling the greatest possible number of people to participate in physical activities in the forms which they are most interested in and which are suitable to their individual level of fitness. Particular stress has been put on propagating sport in rural areas and in the areas of low level of urbanization. All this is to be done by organizations and associations. The achievements of Family Cup in this respect have been acknowledged by the Parliament by both the governing party and the opposition. The activities will be financed by the state /from its budget, local governments and Lotto/ and private donors.

International co-operation
One of the aims of the Family Cup organizers is to propagate this form of family sport also abroad. We are convinced that regular meetings of the most sports-oriented European families would be an excellent form of promoting the "sport for everybody". There have been the first attempts to do so. When eleven years ago the idea of Family Cup was born, we got in touch with the Austrian-German WISBI association as well as with the American NASTAR. At that time, however, it seemed that there were too big discrepancies between the programs of our organization and the foreign ones. Both NASTAR and WISBI are focused basically on alpine skiing, while the program of Family Cup is much wider and involves summer sports with a special emphasis on family competitions. There appeared also new partners. Every third weekend of March mixed and double tennis tournaments are held in which teams from Czech Republic and Poland take part. The Italian organization Coppa di Familia has expressed its interest in the co-operation with us, thus becoming another potential partner. In the skiing finals teams from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Germany participate.

The special award
To encourage Polish people to practice sports all year round, the organizers found a special award. It is granted by means of drawing lots among the families which have taken part in at least two disciplines e.g. cycling and skiing or tennis and skiing. The award is always very valuable, for example, a few years ago it was a Mercedes car.

The Cup of the President of Poland.
For the last 9 years the President of Poland has declared his patronage over the Family Cup events, therefore each year the family which is the most strongly involved in sports activities is awarded the special Cup founded by the President. The family which is chosen for this award is the one which has the biggest number of participants in the championships and has taken part in the greatest number of editions of the championships over the years. If there are more families which fulfill the two conditions, the decisive power is in the achieved results.


Sport in a family
eng_10.jpgOne of the most threatening aspects of the contemporary world is the crisis of a family. Children spend less and less time with their parents. Instead they seem to live in two different worlds. Sociologists, psychologists and experts in education all agree that sport can play a significant role in the process of upbringing in each family, strengthening the links between children and their parents as well as between children and their grandparents. You can hardly imagine a better way of spending free time together than going skiing together,playing tennis or a family cycling trip.
Family sport is not just play and recreation, but it is a part of the process of upbringing. It is still another tool in the hands of parents which can be used in shaping the child's personality, will, teaching living together in accordance with the principle of reliability and fair play. Entering for a competition, a child becomes more active, independent, responsible and enterprising. A family involved in sport is an important partner in the process of education at school. Sport in a family gives children a chance to be brought up in a healthy and hygienic way. Thus from early childhood they get used to regular everyday physical exercises and training sessions. Common interest in sport and participation in the Family Cup championships creates good relationships between children and adults, therefore it is important to make sure the championships are a pleasurable experience for the whole family, and that means that it should be stress-free.

Skiing with your father
The relationships between fathers and children are peculiar in character. According to American researchers, everyday activities and common interest in sport play a much more important role in building up father's authority than preaching or expensive gifts. Children do not like listening to speeches and, instead, they appreciate in their parents recreational activities, such as going skiing or sailing together, camping holidays, participating in a sport tournament or simply playing a game of ball together. In 2005 at Maryland University , the National Fatherhood Forum was held during which different problems of family development were discussed. On the basis of close observation and a questionnaire given to a few hundred families to answer, prof. Sean Brotherson drew a conclusion that the main factor which determined the success in upbringing was being involved in different activities by whole families. "Even daughters prefer to go fishing with their fathers, go camping at the weekend or play ball rather than just have a conversation", says prof. Brotherson. In addition, father's relationships with their children have a different shape if they take place beyond the overprotective eye of their mother. The research which was carried out at Delaware University showed that children achieve much better results if it is their father who is active in the school life, comes to Parent-Teacher Association meetings, plays an active role in the school sports activities. In such situations, children like school and do not feel rejected by their peers. Dr Michael Ferrari claims that, unfortunately, those contacts are frequently broken all too early. Fathers often think that 16-18-years-olds can already live their own life and share it with their peers, while, in fact, for keeping up good family relationships it is crucial to maintain some forms of spending time together, especially those which are recreational in character.

eng_13.jpgIn search of the new philosophy of sport
"It is the participation that matters, not winning" - this old slogan by Coubertin hasn't survived. In the contemporary sport, including the Olympic games, it is just the opposite - it is winning that matters. There is a clear division between the gladiators participating in the show on the arena and the spectators who are watching them. Even the competition among children and young people has been "infected" by this way of thinking. What often happens is that the priority is to look for the future champions. Unfortunately, mass recreation isn't free of this way of thinking and as a result it has become involved in heavy competition, the main aim of which is winning a cup, a medal and being high on the ranking list, and the ultimate goal is to find the individual winner who will be standing on a podium, while all the others are soon forgotten.
Family sport is an alternative to that concept. The principle is that the individual achievement makes sense only when it contributes to the success of the group. Most pathologies of the modern sport result from the desire to win at all costs. Participating in the Family Cup championships, on the other hand, is a fantastic lesson of fair play for children and reminds their parents that sport can play a crucial role in the process of upbringing.


The history of Family Cup in brief

eng_15.jpgThe history of Family Cup in brief The idea was born 12 years ago in the editor's office of the magazine "The Sports Style" and its author was Janusz Leszczyc-Zielonacki, a journalist, the author of popular TV programs entitled "Kolorowy zawrót glowy" (The colour of giddiness), promoting the idea of building new ski resorts in Poland.

At first the championships were played in alpine skiing only, then summer sports disciplines were introduced, thus creating an all-year-round cycle of sports amateur events. For the first ten years Family Cup was entirely financed by private companies and Family Cup Publishers - the owner of the magazine "The Sports Style" which is strongly involved in spreading the idea of recreation and tourism.

Soon a whole network of companies, associations and sports clubs, as well as institutions representing local governments, was created and they were all involved in organizing competitions all over Poland. Each of those partners was encouraged to take part in this cooperation by an enthusiast of sport, who had experience and was keen to contribute. Every year 5,000 people take part in the skiing championships, 6,000 - in mountain cycling and over 1,000 in tennis. Each edition consists of a series of eliminations - regional championships, which are held all over Poland. At the end of each edition the finals are organized. So far over 80,000 people have taken part in the competitions organized by Family Cup. Because of the fact that the championships are organized with particular care and on a very high level to show respect to those who have been encouraged to participate in them, the number of competitors in each edition reaches the maximum. Increasing the number of participants, particularly in winter sports, can only be possible by increasing the number of events. This, however, is determined by financial limitations. The main organizers of the finals are Family Cup Publishers, the editorial board of the bimonthly "The Sports Style" and the Association Family Cup based in Cracow. The regional eliminations are organized thanks to the co-operation with companies as Intersport, Mercedes, Peugeot, Warta, PZU, Nestle, Hortex, Salomon, Kross, PLL LOT, Kärcher and regional associations.


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mob. +48 696 502 700


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