PM Orban: Role of sports irreplaceable
The government has declared sports to be a strategic sector because it s realised its irreplaceable role, the fact that without ideals, hard work, heroes and sacrifice modern life will "become sludgy", Hungarian PM Viktor Orban told the Nemzeti Sport newspaper in his year-end interview. The premier said he would like to live the day when Hungary organises an Olympic Games and he would also like to root for Hungary s national football team in a FIFA World Cup final.
During the interview titled “Back to the Top!” published on Thursday, Hungary s premier was first asked whether he had already been inoculated against the coronavirus disease. He said he hadn t received a jab, adding that “I ll wait for my turn, because first, those working in the hospitals ICUs must be protected”.
He emphasized that, because of the coronavirus epidemic, athletes must now go through a period of regrouping and survival until life restarts. “This is not so far away, perhaps it s even closed than we think,” Viktor Orban said.
During the current grave health crisis there we cannot have any sports events that threaten people s health, so safety and security must come first, he said.
“This restricts sports, but the vaccine is already out there and the era of helplessness and vulnerability will be over the minute we have sufficient quantities, which is only a matter of weeks now”, PM Orban said.
Hungary s premier underlined that sports play a particularly important role in the lives of Hungarians and the government would be making a big mistake by ignoring this fact when it comes to national education and educational policy, as well as shaping people s character.
He described sports as the best intrument to measure the nations competitive performance. “Sports is about come on, my friend, let s go to the dam to see who s better!” – Viktor Orban said, adding that as football is undoubtedly the most popular and widely played sports in the world, it has an outstanding role.
“I have always viewed football in Hungary as a matter of self respect,” the prime minister said, adding that national self-esteem and sports are closely intertwined. He said: “For us, Hungarians, bravado is our eternal virtue which lives in the same corner of our hearts as sports.”
Mr Orban said “the left is opposed to everything, including sports, too.” I don t think fretting about spending money on sports facilities or children s sports is a normal approach, he said, adding that sports in Hungary are far from being overwhelmed by money. “We still live in the golden age,” Orban said.
The prime minister also touched on the issue of “there being constant attempts to attack everything that belongs to a person s natural outlook on life and self-identity,” adding that these tend to infiltrate sporting events through slogans, jersey captions, and obligatory speeches.
“Sometimes I feel like we have to live in a big, global re-education camp which absorbs the world of sports, and this bothers many of us,” he said.
The prime minister said physical education in schools is no longer just a number of simple health drills as it also involves specialised sports actvities with the participation of sports associations.
He emphasized that the government s kindergarten programme made him even prouder than PE in schools: the government has sent kindergartens thousands of balls, football goals and tools needed to develop all sorts of skills. “This was a suggestion by football coach Pal Dardai, I recall having read it in the Hungarian Nemzeti Sport newspaper,” he said.
According to Viktor Orban, these elements are built on each other: kindergarten and school sports, connections with competitive sports, and the necessary facilities, “which are not in any way worse today than those in Belgian, Spanish or Austrian clubs.”
The prime minister said the system in which some portion of the taxes paid by companies is granted to sports clubs was a success story, arguing that – on top of extra financial resources – it s created a living relationship between companies and sports organisations.
PM Orban said that a government quality assurance programme was necessary for state-accredited academies. Such a programme currently covers football, handball and basketball, but could be extended to volleyball and hockey in the future.
He said the associations were still struggling to make ends meet, and it was still a challenge for them to reach the “mid-field level” in Europe. In order to achieve improvement, we would need to develop a club culture which would encourage everyone in the associations to do their best, he said.
Viktor Orban emphasized that the systems of big clubs and academies will slowly overlap. There will be good academies where there are good clubs.
The prime minister said the reason there are political personalities among sports leaders todya is because sports in Hungary was in an extremely poor state. He added, however, that this in the long-run will not necessarily have to stay this way.
Speaking about sports developments, he said the plans include the construction of a large ice sports hub, adding that cyclists also have some serious aspirations. He also mentioned the building of a pentathlon facility, the establishment of a national fencing programme and of Katalin Kovacs s kayak-canoe academy. Hungaoring will be renovated and a Moto-GP track will be built, he added.
“I would like to live the day when Hungary can host the Olympics. Had our efforts not been undermined from within the country, we could have achieved this by 2032 at the latest,” Viktor Orban said.
He noted that he would also like to see Hungary “rising to heights the country has achieved twice in football already, reaching the World Cup final.”
“We are supposed to live longer and longer, so there is hope. Today, both goals are still beyond the rational dimension, but there is no sports without dreams,” he declared.
Responding to a question regarding his own personal sports activities, Hungary s prime minister said, “this year has been as difficult for me as everyone else,” adding that he is slowly returning to “football tennis at the end of January, and then to old boys matches. At the academy, the coaches play matches every week. At Easter, I would like to join them,” PM Orban said, concluding the interview.