DRAFTING. The STICK Project (Sport and Academic Talent Integration through Exchange Programmes in Hockey), funded by the European Commission through the action of the Erasmus+ programme SPORT, aims to design a sports and academic exchange programme within the framework of Erasmus+ programme, looking for a solution to the difficulty of elite and high-level athletes to take part in the Erasmus mobility without a detriment of their academic careers. The project, proposed by Atlètic Terrassa and the Autonomous University of Bellaterra, has been selected in the 2017 call of the SPORT action of the European programme ERASMUS+, out of a total of 370 proposals, obtaining such a high punctuation (87 out of 100). The total amount of the proposals selected by the European Commission has been of 160. STICK seeks, on one hand, to support the dual career of athletes and, on the other hand, to reduce the loss of sports talents in Clubs when these students eventually opt to leave for Erasmus. The project will have a total budget of €372.251,00 and will take place over the course of two years among all partners of the Consortium, which it is estimated that they will get to be around twenty partners counting all institutions. Furthermore, the Atlètic has created a specific Department exclusively to carry out the project, which happens to be the first one devoted to the field hockey in Europe.
The project will lead a consortium made up of a total of 10 institutions from 5 European countries where field hockey has a great impact and relevance; one hockey club and one university per country: Atlètic Terrassa Hockey Club, coordinator i promoter of the project, and the Autonomous University of Barcelona in our country; in Belgium, it counts on the participation of KHC Dragons and the Universiteit of Antwerpen; in the Netherlands, the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and the Rotterdam H.C.; in England, Beeston H.C. and the Nottingham Trent University; and finally, in Ireland, the Pembroke Wanderers H.C. and the Dublin City University.
Currently, the European universities must develop not only academic knowledge but also those skills and competences that allow them to success in the today’s highly globalised labour market. Nowadays, linguistic and intercultural competences and skills are essential and it is why the European Commission supports mobility programmes to facilitate the students to stay abroad, throughout the famous Erasmus programme. The amateur high-level athletes are stuck in this reality. They have to develop two parallel careers at their both maximum levels: academic and sportive. If they are willing to be in the maximum level, both practice and competitions require a lot from them. At the same time, they must try to excel the most in College, since their labour future does not depend on sport but on the academics and their professional skills.
Too often, these student athletes are forced to give up on living this experience abroad due to the high demands of the high-performance sports. It also happens that many of them choose to drop-in the studies, forcing them to stop practicing to get to live an international academic experience. Others, though, choose to live only the sports mobility, leaving aside the academics, since the foreign club they get the offer from do not have any nearby University with an Erasmus agreement. Collaterally, many clubs and federations lose talents to compete at a high level.
The requirements of the Erasmus+ programme and elite and high-level sport do not match very well and, if universities and sport clubs work together, it can be possible for high-level athletes to not be forced to choose between their academic and professional career and their sporting life, being able to combine well both. The STICK Project, with a two-year duration, will be focused, initially, in field hockey as a pilot sport, but the ultimate goal of this project is to extend this model of academic and sport mobility in all sports. In the long term it is expected that the European Commission will implement this specific scheme for elite and high-level athletes on the basis of future programmes.