The Youth Olympic Games are about far more than medals and Lillehammer 2016 took this idea to new levels. As a key member of the team tasked with documenting all the initiatives and programmes that ran alongside the YOG 2016, Lillehammer University lecturer Anders Lindstad is perfectly placed to assess just how effectively the Games involved the local community, inspired young people and laid foundations for future generations.
Having volunteered at the Olympic Winter Games Lillehammer 1994, Lindstad was delighted when the city was selected to host the YOG in 2016. On the sporting side, the lecturer was excited by the prospect of once again watching top-level action on his doorstep. He was also glad to see the venues from the ’94 Games being re-used in what was a testament to their durability and quality.
He does, however, admit to being pleasantly surprised by just how much emphasis was placed on the culture and education programmes that complement the on-field action. And the way in which young people were given opportunities to use the Games as a learning tool also left a huge impression on the man who has helped quantify the impact of Lillehammer 2016 in such areas.
“I expected it to be a really nice competition because we know the region of Lillehammer is used to having winter competitions, but I didn’t expect there to be such a high quality and high level of culture and education programmes as well,” 46-year-old Lindstad said. “I was impressed by that and some of the other programmes. The sport was great but so were these two other pillars of the Youth Olympic Games.
“I was lucky enough to work with this project where we tried to map all the initiatives and activities that came as a result of the Youth Olympic Games. I think it’s impressive just how many initiatives came and how many people were involved in different programmes regarding the YOG. It’s much more than just the competition.”I expected it to be a really nice competition because we know the region of Lillehammer is used to having winter competitions, but I didn’t expect there to be such a high quality and high level of culture and education programmes as well.Anders Lindstad Lillehammer University lecturer
And perhaps even more importantly for Lindstad is the impact the Games can have on attitudes amongst the region’s youth. “We had a programme to try to get school students more active,” he said. “It’s important to all young people in the area. It’s difficult to put numbers on it but it involved lots of people.
“They also had the programme where people from different high schools were able to use the YOG as training for work. We had the ‘try the sport’ programme, with the idea that spectators shouldn’t just be spectators, they should also get involved.
“School kids went to venues, had a look at the sport and then tried it before doing the cultural experience afterwards, so it was a nice cooperation between the schools and the Organising Committee. Maybe we got some people interested in sports and some people interested in sports events. The Young Leader programme was also good. The motto of the Games was ‘Go beyond, Create tomorrow’ and I think the idea of creating tomorrow really gets youth inspired.”
Lindstad was also involved in setting up a new course at his university that ran almost in tandem with the Games. And the potential benefits of this collaboration are the icing on the cake as far as he is concerned.
“The Bachelor’s in sports management programme is a legacy from the Games,” he said. “We started in 2014 and I think the Games were a catalyst for it. It was important with the Games that we really got an opportunity for the students to have work training in real-life situations. It is really nice for the region that they had these opportunities.
“A lot of the students did a lot of work with the Olympics, they started early and worked during the Games and before to create attention. I think it’s really important to involve students, young people, the local sports club, and to get as many stakeholders as possible involved in it, because then you get more benefits from it.”