Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Encouraging physical education in Brazil and the Netherlands

8 Jul 2014 09:00 | Communication

A delegation representing the HvA’s Academy for Physical Education (ALO), the City of Amsterdam and VU University Amsterdam recently visited Brazil. One of the reasons for their visit was to strengthen the cooperation with Brazil’s Universidade de São Paulo (USP). The education partners organised seminars, clinics for local trainers and a kids’ day in four Brazilian cities during the FIFA World Cup. During these days, the visitors from Amsterdam familiarised the trainers with the Athletic Skills Model.

Although Brazil excels in football, the amount of exercise done by the population, particularly children, is nowhere near enough. Children in poor neighbourhoods receive hardly any physical education, explains Jacomine Ravensbergen, Dean of the HvA School of Sports and Nutrition: “During a kids’ day, for example, we saw a group of children aged 10 to 12 who were unable to climb over the vaulting box, or do a somersault. That came as quite a surprise to us.”

Athletic Skills Model

In order to change this, the delegation brought along the Athletic Skills Model developed by ALO lecturer Jan Willem Teunissen, VU professor Geert Savelsbergh and the current strength and conditioning coach of the Dutch national football team René Wormhoudt. This model does not focus on a single sport, like football, but on broader athletic development, so that children learn the foundations of exercise, such as balance and jumping. Ravensbergen: “Once children learn those basic skills, they start to enjoy sports and exercise and will automatically start participating more. This is a way of breaking through the vicious circle of insufficient motor development, no fun, no exercise, becoming overweight, etc.”

New link with gym classes

The visit by the ALO and VU also focused on further cooperation with the University of São Paulo (USP). Researchers and professors were introduced to one another. The Brazilians were very interested in the research conducted by professor Huub Toussaint. In 26 schools he measured the motor development of children, as well as overweight and fitness, as part of the Amsterdam programme Alle Amsterdammers op Gezond Gewicht, AAGG (Everyone in Amsterdam at a Healthy Weight). Ravensbergen: “The USP did not yet have such a link between research and practice in schools and gym lessons – yet for us that is core business. ALO students do internships and their final thesis research in schools. The USP is now talking with the Municipality of São Paulo about launching a similar programme.”

Supplementary specialities

Earlier this year, Amsterdam concluded an MOU with São Paulo for cooperation in a number of areas, such as combating overweight. This too contributes to the mutual cooperation. By conducting similar research in multiple areas, the partners can scale up the research naturally. The USP and the HvA School of Sports and Nutrition (DBSV) supplement each other in terms of specialities and target groups. The USP has a large number of research laboratories whereas DBSV mainly has living labs and a well-equipped nutrition lab. Finally, the partners discussed more possibilities for internships and exchanges. The first Brazilian researcher will come to professor Peter Weijs’ HvA professorship of Weight Management in September. The first ALO students can start in São Paulo from January.