Women’s EHF EURO 2022 connects sports and business

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EHF / Danijela Vekić

Major international sports events like the Women’s EHF EURO 2022 have become a meeting place not just for players, fans, and officials, but also for major companies. Sports events are a great opportunity for connecting different fields, like tourism, business, and sports.

That is also the focus of ‘Business Opportunities in Slovenia’, a three-day conference currently running in Ljubljana. Under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, participants from business, handball, and government are discussing various topics.

The conference is divided into four panels and will focus on the several areas currently targeted high on the political agenda across Europe: sports policy and strategy in sport and tourism, energy, sustainability, new technologies and ecology, and – last but not least – empowering women.

The Slovenian Handball Federation took the initiative to create a platform to promote the country and also to bring businesses closer to the sport. The first initiative dates back to 2015 during the IHF World Championship – and has continued ever since.

Slovenia president Borut Pahor opened the conference as he stated that the “Women’s EHF EURO 2022 is the biggest women’s sports event in Slovenia and I am proud to be a patron of the event. Being a co-host with North Macedonia and Montenegro proves sports doesn’t know about borders and connects the people.”

Pahor stressed that this EHF EURO is particularly important for women’s sports.

“There should not be any limits and this event proves it,” Pahor said, adding the he was “proud that the organisation of the event had sustainability in their mind, thinking about our planet and our children.”

The President of the Handball Federation of Slovenia, and also a member of the EHF Executive Committee, Franjo Bobinac, stated that the goal of the conference is to ensure the effective promotion of business ideas and concepts, the opportunities for business cooperation as the host of the championship and all other interested countries.

“We are combining business, sport, politics and media. It all started in Qatar in 2015, where a lot of businesspeople came. The Slovenian Handball Federation continued to work on its Business Forum in Paris, Wroclaw and Zagreb.”

Bobinac explained the three-day conference was touching on a variety of topics.

“Sport is an important element of our civil society and is connected to business. I would like to express my gratitude to the EHF, who made it possible to organise this extraordinary sports event,” Bobinac said.

“Also, I am grateful to the government, who supported us and gave us a financial support, and to the municipalities of Celje and Ljubljana and their mayors, as we would not be able to do this without their help.”

The President of the European Handball Federation, Michael Wiederer, also expressed the opinion that business and sports need each other.

“It is my third time at this Business Conference. It is a pleasure to represent the EHF here. Slovenia is in our hearts with handball activities, their clubs are among the top clubs in Europe, and they have proved their quality,” Wiederer said.

“It is only reasonable to have the Women’s EHF EURO here, after the very successful Men’s EHF EURO 2004. Organising Younger Age Category championships also proves Slovenia is thinking about our future, about the children.”

A according to Wiederer, it is all about cooperation – on and off the court.

“Just like the playmaker depends on the top scorer and the top scorer on the playmaker if they want to succeed: they need each other, and that is how I see business and sports. I hope that the cooperation will be visible here in Slovenia. We will talk about business opportunities, energy, handball, and women in business, which is also the focus of the EHF.”

Also, Matjaz Han, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, and Ales Cantarutti, Director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, presented why Slovenia is a good choice for investment – a green, creative and smart country with connections through sport and tourism.

The roundtable discussion on sports and tourism opportunities saw Michael Wiederer; Franjo Bobinac, Ales Cantarutti, Anita Stojcevska, CEO of SKB Bank and Maja Pak, Director of Slovenian Tourist Board and ambassador of the Women's EHF EURO 2022, discuss the impact of organising major sports events on tourism.

They emphasised the sustainable spirit of the EHF EURO and the future of sports in a sustainable way. They all agreed that sports creates passion and emotion, something that can be easily transferred to all topics covered at the conference with strong media support.

‘Business Opportunities in Slovenia’ – conference programme:

  • Panel 1: Sports policy and strategy in sport, tourism (Wednesday 2 November)
  • Panel 2: Energy (Thursday 3 November)
  • Panel 3: Sustainability, new technologies and ecology (Thursday 3 November)
  • Panel 4: Empowering women (Friday 4 November)

Photos © Jure Erzen / kolektiff

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