Interview UISP

‘My Sport is Franja is a departure for a long journey together’

By Daniele Tomat/Mark Koghee

Elena Debetto (right) with My Sport is Franja project leader Samo Kofol and Daniela Conti of UISP.
Elena Debetto (right) with My Sport is Franja project leader Samo Kofol and Daniela Conti of UISP.

President Elena Debetto of the Italian Union Sport for All (UISP), department Fruili Venezia Giulia expects a long and fruitful cooperation in the pursuit of My Franja’s goal to connect sport and culture. UISP is partner of My Sport is Franja and here Debetto explains why.

Why did you decide to participate in this initiative?
,,The first contact was made in spring 2014. Samo Kofol (My Franja’s project leader ed.) believed UISP would be an interesting partner. I loved it; combining sport and culture, promoting the region. That is also in UISP’s DNA. Furthermore the committee of Friuli Venezia Giulia was already working on these topics, improving bicycle routes and linking them to a network of local associations and institutions.”

What does UIPS do?
,,UISP is an organization that promotes sports. Our primary goal is to guarantee the right to do sports for all people. We offer activities, support sport unions, organize demonstrations, urge institutions to put the necessary resources in place and promote projects. Our partner is anyone who wants to sit at the table with us, or better, take the field with us.”

What do you expect from this project?
,,Expectation is that through the system and means of this project both local and international initiatives and relationships can start which can become established and fruitful in the long term. In addition, because the project also includes a training program we expect that people who take part will become active members of our association.”

The project aims to promote cycling and the cultural heritage of the area. What is the Italian situation and where can you improve?
,,From my point of view, cycling tourism in Italy and cultural heritage are experienced as parallel tracks: both are seen but they do not connect. There is considerable scope for improvement: cycling should be put forward as a way to introduce the cultural heritage.
People who travel by bike should feel immersed in the region and its traditions. There should be a total experience, in which the sporting aspects are only part of the trip. Therefore, plans for infrastructure, tourism and signage will be increasingly developed in function of cycling tourism.”

You have a strong partnership with the City of Cormons, and generally with the whole area of Collio. How can this area benefit?
,,Collio/Brda is a wonderful area which is comparable in beauty to the famous Monferrato. It is also rich in culture and sports. The effects that we expect are a greater awareness of the region of its enormous wealth.”

How do you see the contacts with the other countries of the Franja project in the future, especially Slovenia?
,,All cycling routes that cross our region also go through Slovenia or Austria. Collio has always been a single region between Italy and Slovenia. Now that the borders are gone, it is time to begin to plan together, to promote initiatives. I believe that this project will strengthen relations and will allow us a more fluid communication. In short, it is a departure for a long journey together.”

A part of your staff and some local young people took part in Franja Academy last June in Ljubljana. What were their impressions?
,,What the participants have reported is that Franja Academy was formative in many ways: to create a group among participants to learn new methods of organization, to get personal experience of sport and culture, to confront public administrators who have decided to promote concrete actions in sports and to promote the area. Now there is much expectation for the second edition. At the end we hope have a handbook of good organizing.”

In May 2017 UISP Friuli Venezia Giualia holds a cycling event in Collio which is part of the My Sport is Franja initiative.