Stiinta Bucuresti: Sports are amazing through everything happening around them, not just in the field
The Hunters2023 survey indicates that 74% of parents surveyed say it is very important for them to send their children to do some form of organised sport as part of their training. In addition, Hunters also points to two powerful trends that are changing the way people look at the world and organise their lives: IMMUNITY and DISCONNECT FROM TECHNOLOGY.
About these topics and not only we chose to talk to Vlad Andronescu, manager of the basketball section of Stiinta Bucuresti club, a fresh presence in the world of youth sports, here in dialogue with Andreea Lupu, Noeland partner and empath contributor.
Andreea: Hi, Vlad. Thank you first of all for agreeing to help us in this endeavour to better understand two of this year's strong trends, IMMUNITY and DISCONNECT FROM TECHNOLOGY. In our discussion I would like to draw people's attention both to the work of Stiinta club and to the understanding and declension of the trends I mentioned earlier, which have to do with health, the way you move, the way you eat, education and socialisation.
Vlad: very complex, that's sport
Andreea: yes, exactly (laughs) I was curious about the history of science? Why is it called that way
Vlad: the name of the club, Stiinta, goes back a long way, since 1949, as our logo says. It was founded as a university club for students. It was obviously related to "science", meaning"to do sport and school", so originally the two go hand in hand. The Science Club trained student athletes, it functioned on its own, as it does now, but in close connection with Politehnica. The club was re-established in 2010 with the help of Mr. Victor Mihailescu, who is still the director of the club, and two years ago, through a government decision, universities were given the possibility to take over certain university clubs. We were taken over by Politehnica and now we belong to them somehow. Before this move we were directly subordinated to the Ministry of Education. Now we receive funding also from the Ministry of Education, but through Politehnica. And with their help we hope to be able to use the newly renovated premises of the Politehnica to be able to carry out our work as well as possible
Andreea:You said you have been at the Stiinta since 2015. I was curious, in your opinion, what do you feel is different at Stiinta, in general, but also compared to what the club was at its base, when it was founded in 1949?
Vlad: I don't think much has changed, except that we had a break. The aim is the same as it was at the beginning - we want to be a training club for children and students that we want to direct towards a correct development. Both from a sporting and human point of view, a child is formed until around the age of 18, then there is a very high dropout rate because there are pressures in the area of performance, both academic and sporting. We try to maintain this balance until after college. We want to provide the right training from a young age, when you can develop both physically and emotionally. We care a lot about these levels, regardless of whether that child will end up doing performance sports or not, because if he is trained in a balanced way from a young age, then he will become a healthy adult. And we are very interested in giving society as many healthy adults as possible, society needs them. Without sport and without correct emotional development it is quite difficult. Normally education is done at school, our children go there every day, and we complement it with sports, which offers another kind of education.
Andreea: it's interesting that when you said you were a training club, I thought it was just about sports performance, but you say it's more than that.
Vlad: Exactly! From the children we work with, only a few go on to perform in that sport - be it football, basketball, handball, tennis, any of those sports. We can't prevent the dropout rate, but we can reduce it. In addition, a child who is part of a team will know much better how to position himself in a team and he will be an adult and will have a job, he will know how to respect rules, how to adapt, because by doing sports you learn how to cooperate with people, how to be disciplined, how to respect rules. You learn a lot through sport.
Andreea: Your specialty, Vlad, is basketball, so a team sport. Have you seen any changes in the kids from the time they joined the club until now?
Vlad: Yes, I have seen very big changes. Doing a sport like this, or maybe another team sport, helps the child become more daring, you see him develop, gain confidence. Sport results are not just about getting a medal. The role of sport is to make you become competitive and wanting to be the best. And that then applies in life in everything the child does as an adult. If you have been taught as a child to be the best with your team, to respect rules, to respect your teammates, then you will do that as an adult. Being the best does not mean trampling on the other, it also means respecting the rules of fair play. It means working harder, being more careful, more serious, more disciplined. It means a stronger, emotionally healthy and adaptable adult.
Plus, we do something else. We recruit staff from our athletes. We train coaches, trainers who continue their professional career in sport. For example, one of our physical trainers was promoted to the first basketball league in France, at Limoges CSP. I've known him since he was 15 years old and although he wasn't at the top of the team, he always wanted to be number one and he found his way. Because sport teaches you something else: to persevere, not to give up.
Andreea: You said that you are betting on the formation of a club-coaches-children-parents community. If you were to describe your relationship with parents, how would you describe it?
Vlad: Here we face all sorts of challenges. There are several categories of parents - some who know how to support their child, for them it's a joy to come and see him playing and there's a beautiful harmony between them, they support each other, groups of parents are formed who go on trips together, they support the team, they applaud. We have the loudest hall when we play at home. Extended families come, with relatives, with friends... it's very nice. But we also have the category of parents who come and shout at the referees, at the children, scold the child after leaving the game because he didn't play well... it's difficult.
Andreea: and how do you deal with this?
Vlad: We try to impose certain rules, we explain them at the meeting. I told them that it's ideal when the child leaves the gym not to talk about basketball and just to applaud. And to close the subject of sports. It makes no sense to give their opinion on something they don't know and they should never be technical with their children.
Andreea: How do you select players? Is it easy for someone to get to you?
Vlad: In basketball I think we already represent a brand and you can see that by the fact that we get calls from kids and parents who want to come to us. So we have developed a trial where we call all those who want to participate and then we apply certain criteria related to physical and technical skills, but we also look at the parents, because they also matter a lot.
Andreea: Many parents today are concerned about their children being overwhelmed by technology. How does this look from the angle of a child who plays performance sports?
Vlad: I have friends who have children of similar ages to those in our club and those who don't play sports are much more attached to technology, obviously. The ones that do play sports have a lot of social games, they play with each other on the bus, on trips, they have fun, they behave naturally. But we can't neglect the role of technology nowadays, we have athletes who don't give up and play on the computer until 2,3 in the morning, but the fact that they do sport helps them anyway. Including in gaming. Sport, especially basketball, develops creativity, quick thinking, reactive speed. Basketball attack has a limited time, it requires you to find several solutions, to choose the best one ... and mastering technology helps too.
Andreea: What does it mean for a child to be part of the club? What activities they do here?
Vlad: The main activity consists of daily training and besides that we also work with physical trainer, nutritionist, psychologist, we focus on sports related training. We try to constantly improve, because there are currently some deficiencies on the sports psychology side. There is a great need for such support to achieve performance, especially as all kinds of problems arise in adolescence (puberty, temptations, feelings). And in our country there are no specialists willing to spend as much time as the athlete needs to attend training. A psychologist nowadays makes much more money in his office than we could pay.
Andreea: I assume the coach also has an important role, he could fill this need?
Vlad: For sure. The coach is very important. For these kids he's a second father, teacher, friend.
Andreea: How do you work, Vlad, with today's children, with this generation that is now coming up?
Vlad: It is working quite hard, harder than with previous generations. This is mostly because of parents and the comfort zone in which children are raised. Parents give them everything they need because they want them to have a good life without deprivation. Even I do that with my children - holidays, presents, good food, whatever they want. But the truth is that sport is not about comfort, it's anything but comfort. Sport is about pushing the limits and kids are not used to that and often they are hard to motivate.
Andreea: And yet children want to come here
Vlad: Yes, they do. It's just that without having problems at home, many people don't understand what it means to go beyond their limits, and when they realise it, they start complaining that it's really hard.
Andreea: Yet what motivates these children to overcome their weaknesses and push their limits?
Vlad: Coaches. heir work is harder today, but it motivates the kids.
Andreea: Your slogan is "Stiinta produces performance". Does it relate to what you've told me so far, is the road to performance tough?
Vlad: Yes, it's related, of course. Those who have made it to the top are now playing in League 1 basketball and these are our results
Andreea: So you produce talents...
Vlad: You're born with talent, we grind it. And we teach them to work
Andreea: what does #altogether mean?
Vlad: It means that we believe that only together we can achieve performance and work on this community. The next step is to build a fan shop, to do more communication and marketing, bring additional revenue to the club budget. The kids are very proud of the brand, they go to school with the club's backpack, with their jackets, they like our "fist and feather" logo.
Andreea: what is the meaning of the logo, what message do you want to convey?
Vlad: The fist symbol clearly refers to physical strength, and feather leads us to thinking and strategy -you know what they say, what you write stays, what you say flies ("verba volant"). And that's what we mean - that sport develops you not only physically, but also develops your thinking. Contrary to preconceptions, there is a direct link between sport and academic performance. From our point of view, a very good athlete is also a good performer at school. We have kids who got 10 on the line, who got into super colleges or high schools, who got at least a 9.50 on the baccalaureate or are learning in math-info classes.
Andreea: But it's incredible, because they have a very strict schedule. How do they cope with school?
Vlad: They do! What people should understand is that a kid who does sports and school is giving up absolutely nothing but technology, sleepless nights, time at the mall or coffee. Those who do sports, do both school and sports. The whole system is about discipline, coming a little early to training, respecting the start time, the start time of the match ..you can't perform without rules and discipline.
Andreea: I'd like to talk a bit now about your partnership with brands. What is your relationship with them at the moment?
Vlad: Here we have a major problem in the sense that sport in Romania is not really attractive for companies, even if we use the communication channels that everybody else uses. But the marketing departments are balancing the ratings we get by broadcasting matches, even in the national league, or the real exposure of the teams, the number of followers on social media, and these figures are not attractive at all for them. That's true in any sport, not just basketball. There is no business in sports. The educational component becomes interesting on very high volumes that sports cannot offer. If an influencer comes in who has I don't know how many millions of followers and they pay him a few thousand euros, imagine the impact. Or for big companies this is interesting - to make the numbers. That's why we believe that this educational component is much more likely to attract interest and we plan to build a Multisport Academy for younger children, 6-11 years old, where we teach them to develop their motor skills and then choose the sport they can excel in.
Andreea: And yet the clubs, especially the junior ones, how do they finance themselves, how do they manage to support themselves?
Vlad: Most sports clubs in the country are supported by public money and local councils that support their senior teams, less money goes to juniors. There is a law now that says 30% of the money should go to juniors, but the impact of this law will probably be seen in 10 years.
Andreea: In your opinion, Vlad, what should the ideal junior club look like?
Vlad: It is very clear to me - very large child base, large fanbase, infrastructure, arenas, halls, to run competitions, tournaments, matches. There is this issue that is not yet understood in Romania - sport is beautiful because of what happens around it, not just what happens on the floor. The game is usually short, in the NBA it lasts 2-3 hours, but there it is very well advertised and very popular. There are studies that show that an NBA football game alone can bring in about 4 million dollars in revenue from tickets, food, fan shop. In a single game.
It would be nice to be able to enjoy such a show in our place, to buy a ticket, to drink a coffee, to feel the atmosphere. If I were to pass something on to the brands I would say that in Germany there is Allianz Arena, in Austria there is Raiffeisen Arena and I am sure there are many more like it. So it's clear that it can be done, why not in Romania?