40 young sports enthusiasts from Birmingham took part in the 2017 Europod exchange programme in Frankfurt between 1st – 7th July.

Sport Birmingham co-ordinated Birmingham’s involvement in the Europod exchange for the second successive year, doubling the number of young people involved from the city since last year. The Europod exchange is a tri-national exchange programme between the twinned cities of Frankfurt, Lyon and Birmingham which has been running since 2009, but only including Birmingham for the past 2 years. This year there were over 350 participants in total, participating in 11 different sports. The exchange included a communal day in which all participants came together at Brentanobad to compete in an Olympiads competition and also take advantage of using the outdoor swimming pool. A City Reception was hosted by the City of Frankfurt in the Paulskirche, with Deputy Leader Cllr Ian Ward from Birmingham City Council attending and speaking to all participants about making the most of their experience and the importance of the long-standing relationship between the three cities.

Continental Star FC, Bidgley Power Badminton Club, Erdington Judo Club and Continental Stars Table Tennis Club were all involved in the exchange this year, being partnered with clubs from the other two cities and organising their sport’s programme of activities as part of the wider exchange. The young participants took part in sports training sessions and competitions with their fellow participants from Frankfurt and Lyon, along with trying out other sports, cultural and linguistic activities and sightseeing days. For many participants this was their first opportunity to travel to Germany and experience the culture, language and cuisine of another European country, therefore it was a great experience for all of those involved.

The exchange gave the young people new experiences with one of the football participants saying “it was an amazing experience and has changed my outlook on a lot of things”. One of our badminton participants summed up the way in which sport brings people together by saying “it was interesting to meet new people who enjoy playing badminton as much as we do” with this being the main reason for the exchange taking place.

This has been made possible by funding received through the Erasmus+ programme, and also the commitment of volunteers from all of the sports clubs involved.

Planning is already underway for next year’s Europod exchange which will take place in Lyon between 30th June – 6th July 2018 where we will be looking to increase Birmingham’s involvement further by working with more sports clubs from the city – including hockey, gymnastics and hip hop. Following that, the plan is for Birmingham to host the exchange in 2019 and become involved in all of the sports included in the exchange.