As you may have recently read on our blog, it is with great joy that we received Tine Vertommen on September 18. If you don’t know Ms. Vertommen, not only is she a great researcher in the field of violence in sport, but she is also very inspiring. During the afternoon that we spent with her, we took the opportunity to discuss what is done in our respective countries to protect our young athletes.

Her first observation was on the Canadian and Quebec political will to address the problem of violence in a sport environment.

“I love your Minister for Sport,” she launches, showing a photo of Minister on the screen. “It is with people like her that we succeed in changing things for our athletes. Without this government leadership, it is hard to make changes that will endure. That is what I found the most difficult in Belgium before getting the government’s support.”

For us, at Sport’Aide, it is mostly thanks to the willingness of the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur du Québec that we were able to make our crisis service available to help the sport community.

“What I find impressive about your crisis line is the independence that you have been able to establish versus sports federations. Indeed, I studied a similar model in the Netherlands, but acting under the aegis of the Netherlands Olympic Committee. Unfortunately, this service received few calls, because people feared confiding in an organization that was part of the same structure as the federations.”

That said, like Vertommen mentioned, it’s not because we maintain a certain independence with the federations that we must not join them in the implementation of protective measures.

“Sports federations also need help. They need an organization that can support them in terms of the scientific knowledge needed to ensure the relevance of the measures to be put in place and the way to implement them to favour their sustainability. I think that this should be the role of an inspiring organization like Sport’Aide,” adds Vertommen.

Following this comment, and referring to what she is putting in place in Belgium, we asked her opinion in order to enlighten the Quebec sports community.

“For the moment, we are about to implement basic preventive measures like violence prevention policies, codes of conduct, filtering procedures, etc. However, I think that the greatest action remains awareness, because I think that we can settle up to 90% of the problems involving violence by raising awareness among the various stakeholders. In my opinion, most violence does not stem from pathology, but often simply a lack of knowledge and awareness as to what is abusive and what isn’t. That is why, in my country, we used our elite athletes to deliver a message to the general public. A little like you are doing here with your Ambassadors for Good Sportsmanship,” Vertommen compares in conclusion.

In short, we concluded that our two countries are at the same step on their path to protect athletes: supporting sports federations in implementing protective measures for our athletes. Our meeting ended on a note of reciprocal enthusiasm about sharing our advances and therefore collaborating over the next few years on improving our respective methods.

Consequently, Sport’Aide is very proud to add Ms. Vertommen to its list of collaborators to ensure that Quebec and our young athletes can benefit from healthy sports environments that are free from violence.

Alexandre Baril

Project Manager, Sport’Aide

«What I find impressive about your crisis line is the independence that you have been able to establish versus sports federations. […]»

– Tine Vertommen