Czech Republic native Lucie Tuzova began her relationship with the Youth Olympic Games as a Young Ambassador in Lillehammer (Norway) in 2016. She is now a part of the Young Change-Makers+ Programme, delivering her seminar, “Live Your Dream”, across the Czech Republic and helping athletes connect sport with their future professional lives.
When Lucie Tuzova first starting working with the Czech Olympic Committee at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Lillehammer, she helped support the first women’s ice hockey team ever to represent the Czech Republic. Of the 45 athletes representing her country in 2016, the majority were female ice hockey players, ages 15-18.
“In our country, ice hockey is for men, so they were really the beginning of women in the sport,” Tuzova says. “They worked hard, and we believed in them, so when they won the bronze, it was a great moment. It was something that had never happened before.”
Being with the team as they broke barriers inspired Tuzova to continue with the Olympic Movement and keep helping young athletes. An athlete herself, Tuzova recognises how the things young people learn through athletics can transfer to their adult lives. That’s why she created Live Your Dream, a Young Change-Maker+ project that draws parallels between competitive sports and future careers.
“What’s most important is to have a dream and to believe in yourself,” she says. “That's why after Lillehammer, I organised Live Your Dream, because I truly believe that, especially in our society, there are many children who do not have a vision for themselves. Live Your Dream is a seminar that I am delivering to students and children in the Czech Republic. It’s about how the qualities that are needed to do well in sports coincide with what you need to have a successful professional life.”
Live Your Dream is actually Tuzova’s second project with the YOG. While assisting the Czech Olympic Team in Lillehammer, Tuzova coordinated Learn and Share Programmes for the athletes and coaches before and during the Games. The goal of the Learn and Share Programme is to educate young people about the goals of the Olympic Movement outside athletic performance. The curriculum covers a range of topics, like fair play, anti-doping, sexual abuse in sport, good nutrition, friendship and the importance of sharing experiences with athletes from other countries and cultures.
The Learn and Share Programme showed Tuzova that sport can be an effective way to reach young people and educate them about important topics, and it gave her the experience she needed to create her own seminar.
“As an athlete, sport gave me some mental strength and the ability to dream big and not be afraid of taking important steps,” Tuzova says. “It’s difficult to describe, but sport can show you the mental force that we have inside of us. We cannot find it when we stay in the comfort zone, and sport shows us how to go beyond the comfort zone. These are exactly the kinds of qualities you need to direct your career.”
Tuzova participated in sport while in high school, and in 2016 started competing again at an international level in sports aerobics, winning silver at the European Championships. Many of the topics she covers in Live Your Dream are based on the things she learned as an athlete.
Sports help you with time management. They help you to find the drive inside of you, that motivation. They help you create friendships, learn respect and network. All the values that you can find in sport are super important in a career.Lucie Tuzova
Tuzova hopes that the seminar will help young athletes recognise how many important career values they have already learned through sport, and that those values will be relevant in the future, no matter what they choose to pursue. She reminds them, however, that whatever their dream is, there is no replacement for hard work.
“When you work hard, step by step, and you reach your goal, it gives you the mindset that you can achieve whatever you want. Children need to dream, but they also need to work to reach their goals. It’s not enough to dream of something, you must also have the drive to take concrete steps. But if you do the steps without the dream, it doesn’t work. You have to have both.”
The Young Change-Maker (YCM) Programme, now in its fifth cycle, invites National Olympic Committees to nominate inspiring young people aged 20-25 to serve as role models for their athletes and ensure they get the most out of their YOG experience. The YCMs are tasked with guiding the athletes through the Athlete Education Programme, encouraging them to be open to cultural exchanges and introducing them to the Olympic values and all the movement stands for so they can return home as ambassadors of the rings. YCMs are also invited to apply for seed funding to deliver their own social projects, leveraging sport to address an issue in their community. The YCM+ programme – which is supported by Panasonic – has so far seen 19 YCMs+ deliver 28 projects across 17 countries, impacting over 9,000 individual participants.