Ten athletes and representatives of sports federations and organizations have received diplomas for successful completion of the Sports Diplomacy study program. Matej Tóth, the Olympic champion in race walking from Rio 2016, is one of the athletes who can add the MPA title to his name now. “My studies have given me a lot of practical skills and theoretical knowledge which I use every day. I hold positions in the sports movement that require a lot of negotiation, and in such situations you need to know how to deal with people in terms of both “what” and “how”,” he said.
As the Slovak national team member's sporting career was coming to an end, the selection process for the next year of the Sports Diplomacy study program, which is co-organized by the Czech Olympic Committee, the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee, the University of Economics, and other institutions, was underway. Tóth did not waste a lot of time thinking which path to take.
“I told myself that I wanted to continue working for the sports movement. Even though I had a lot of experience, I wanted to take it a higher level in terms of theory, and also practice some skills,” he said, adding that his motivation was to get better: “Besides, I had very positive feedback from previous years.”
The Sports Diplomacy study program is part of the Czech Olympic Committee's Dual Career Program. It is intended for athletes, employees and volunteers working in Czech and Slovak sports organizations who are interested in international relations in the context of sport. A total of 73 students have already graduated from the program.
Alongside Tóth, basketball player and chair of the Czech Olympic Committee's Equal Opportunities Commission Ilona Burgrová and skicrosser and chair of the Czech Olympic Committee's Athletes' Commission Nikol Kučerová are all alumni of the program. All ten students completed the program in previous years and received their MPA degree this year.
I also really enjoyed sports diplomacy, the Olympic movement, and a very interesting protocol that I can use in situations where we have some diplomatic meetings. Every module gave me something.
Classes are taught in blocks over eight weekends. At the end of the course, the participants are required to write and defend a paper. The award for the best paper this time went to international boxing referee instructor and evaluator Terezie Krejbychová, who analyzed manipulation, corruption and cheating in boxing.
At the same time, a new year of the program has already started, covering many topics from the perspective of theory and practice. “I was looking forward to communications because I originally studied journalism. But I also really enjoyed sports diplomacy, the Olympic movement, and a very interesting protocol that I can use in situations where we have some diplomatic meetings. Every module gave me something,” said Matej Tóth, the first Olympic champion to graduate from this accredited program. “Sometimes there were situations which every student can relate to. When we had to take the last step at the University of Economics, presenting our paper in English, I felt butterflies in my stomach, and I had had that feeling during the tests from time to time, too. But mostly it was a very pleasant journey, with great teachers, excellent lectures, and practical model situations. I will have good memories.”