Minister of Sport Joanna Mucha (R) with Chairman of the Cabinet Krzysztof Bielecki (R): photo - PAP/Pawel Supernak
Building on plans revealed in January, Mucha argued at a session of the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Education, Sport and Tourism that in youth training programmes, “assistance should only be granted to the best,” as cited by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
She said that focusing funds on the most promising youngsters was essential, “as youth sport is the stage that lays the ground for future achievements.”
In this regard, a pilot youth training programme is to be introduced, at first taking in five disciplines: athletics, swimming, rowing, sailing and the biathlon. Participants will be picked by regional sporting associations, and the policy will ultimately be applied to other disciplines.
Zbigniew Lewicki, chairman of the Federation of Sport for Warmia-Masuria was among those who had reservations about the changes.
“The number of training programmes will be limited and a lot of young people will be excluded,” he said.
Meanwhile, some participants in the meeting challenged the reformed priority system by which certain sports will be favoured in terms of financing.
In the team sports section, there are two levels, with basketball, football, handball and volleyball given priority.
MP Marek Matuszewski (Law and Justice) argued that ice hockey should be promoted from the lower level, particularly given Poland's hopes to co-host the 2022 Winter Olympics with Slovakia.
However, Mucha assured that if the Polish-Slovakian bid is chosen by the International Olympic Committee (the decision will be made in 2015), then a special programme will be created for the development of winter sports.
Last year, only 10 Polish contestants came home from the London Summer Olympics with a medal, prompting a wave of soul-searching among sport authorities. (nh)