What is Franja and why do we start this petition?
Our story begins in 1982, when the first Marathon Franja cycling event was held in Slovenia. It was named after the Franja Partisan Hospital which operated during World War II. From the beginning there was a connection between the sport event and the cultural heritage site. Marathon Franja became the biggest cycling event and one of the most recognizable recreational sport events in Slovenia.
Franja Partisan Hospital is now a protected monument of humanity. It’s a cultural heritage site that has been awarded with the European Cultural Heritage Label: »Franja Hospital is an outstanding symbol of human fortitude and medical care, of solidarity and companionship in hardship, between staff and wounded, from various nationalities and from the enemy«.
We want to inform people about our goal and reach an audience outside of our network. European countries, sport organizations, clubs and people have different visions how to implement these values at their sporting events.
We believe that the Name Franja, with its cultural background, is the right name to raise awareness of values in sport. The name can be used by any sport in any country to give a clear massage about our shared values. The name should make us proud to be a participant in a sporting event. The name should remind us of what our values are and makes us a better person!
Solidarity, friendship, mutual understanding, persistence, and fairness represent five aspects of shared cultural and sport values.
We want to share a well remembered moment which happened at the start of the third edition of Marathon Franja in 1984. Participants were greeted by legendary doctor Franja Bojc Bidovec, after whom the hospital was named. She greeted and encouraged participants by the now famous words: ,,I know it won’t be easy for you, believe me, it wasn’t easy for us either.”
After 35 years, what makes this event so inspirational for new generations? I’d say the name, a passion for cycling, people, tradition and above all values. Cycling club Rog which has been the organizer of the event from the first edition and Idrija municipal Museum signed a Memorandum of Understanding (read memorandum in English read memorandum in Slovenian) in May 2016 with the purpose to highlight the shared values that are part of the history of Franja Partisan Hospital and Marathon Franja BTC City as the event is called today.
The past organizers of the Marathon Franja knew that the cultural aspects and human values (solidarity, friendship, mutual understanding, persistence, and fairness) which are aligned with the Name Franja need to be transmitted to the participants and the spectators at the event.
With this petition we want to highlight these values and the name Franja on a European level. We know that a petition could be easily overlooked and not get proper support. Nevertheless, we want to try and we feel that European project My Sport is Franja could help us to do the right things. The different activities of the project demonstrate how this can be done. The added value in this process is a cooperation with the museum which is responsible for Franja hospital.
Based on our own experiences, ongoing activities and received feedback we feel that human values should be more visible at the European sporting events. Our approach is a Bottom–Up. Now when the online petition has been started we seek a wider support among European citizens with the help of our partners in the project called My Sport is Franja – A European initiative for the integration of Sport and Cultural heritage.
Events in 2017
Cooperation between sport and culture on an European level is something new and we are thinking about how we can overcome the challenges to give credit to different sporting events which are eager to promote our common cultural heritage on a local level. The project events within My Sport is Franja in 2017 will be organized by sport organizations in Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Slovakia and Italy from April to October.
Mojca Pinteric (left) and Froukje Zuidema of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Slovenia were among the first to sign the petition.
If our story inspires you, please share or help us to connect with your friends, co-workers and like-minded people also through social media.
Thanks to all of you for your support!