Location and general information
The Youth Sports Games were launched in Split, Croatia, in 1996. The primary motive was to enable children to take part in organised sporting events and other free activities. The Youth Sports Games have since become the largest amateur sports event for children and young people in Europe. More than 2.5 million children have competed in the 26 years since they began.
The games are held in three countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. Children of primary and secondary school ages compete in ten sports free of charge, and the most successful individuals and teams get to travel to Split to take part in the international finals.
In addition to the games, the association organises regular sports and recreational activities for children to encourage health, tolerance and ethical values. The association promotes a lifestyle based on understanding, friendship, solidarity and fair play as an alternative to addiction and delinquency.
The association aims to:
- Bring children and young people together for sport and recreation
- Cultivate a positive atmosphere among children and young people;
- Encourage sport and friendship as an alternative to addiction and delinquency, thereby rationalising health and social programmes
- Promote educational activities and deliver a modern, up-to-date message to, and by, young people
In 2023, 220,000 participants are expected from the three countries. Football will have 110,000 players.
The goals for 2023 include the expansion of activities to over 300 municipalities with 15,000 female footballers. National finals in the three countries will be attended by 6,000 participants each, while 1,500 young people will compete in the international finals for which all expenses are covered – accommodation, travel and competition costs.
Sport is used as a medium to connect the participants, aged 7–18, through tournaments held in over 300 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. The Youth Sports Games advocate a healthy lifestyle and promote all ten sports (football, street basketball, handball, volleyball, beach volleyball, tennis, table tennis, chess, dodgeball and athletics), as well as educating the children about sustainability. Emphasis is placed on organising football tournaments for girls with a participation target of 15,000 young female footballers in the three countries.