Students of the different master’s programs in sport management visited the CAR, the High Performance Sports Center of Sant Cugat and enjoyed a presentation by its head of international affairs, Pep Escoda
The High Performance Sports Center of Sant Cugat, known as the CAR de Sant Cugat, was the first high performance sports center in the world to have an educational center, which enabled athletes to continue their academic studies. Many CAR athletes have passed through our classrooms, such as Jennifer Pareja, Anna Prat, David Alegre, Laia Oset, Héctor Ruiz, Raquel González, Mario Pestano, Rubén Vergés, Roger Vallverdú, Pau Quemada, Gerard Camps, Aleix Domènech and Nara López, to name a few.
This year our students enjoyed visiting the CAR facilities, which culminated with a presentation by Pep Escoda, a former freestyle skier (he competed in the 1986 World Cup), who has a BSc in Physical Activity and Sport from the University of Barcelona and is currently the CAR’s head of international affairs.
Since 2000, the CAR has been a recognized sports science and training support center for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), and Escoda is part of the Group of Experts on Speed Glue and Racket Control. He was also the initiator of the 3D modeling of biomechanical analysis in 1988 in Spain, together with the CEIT applied industrial research center of the University of Navarra, which he continued with the application of biomechanics in Barcelona ‘92 and Atlanta ‘96, with the IOC’s medical commission.
Johan always defended the idea that well-trained athletes were the best option to lead sports organizations. Do you agree?
I think it is important that the leaders have a deep knowledge of sport. If they come from sport and have academic studies, it is a unique added value. Having sports experience, as in our case we have had here after being athletes and studying about our sector, gives you a quality to know what you are working on, to know the environment you are operating in. It allows you to make more appropriate decisions for the athlete and for the training regime and high-level sport.
What do you think a CAR – Johan Cruyff Institute partnership brings?
I think we are joining the practical and applied environment of the CAR with a more academic environment where we try to promote knowledge in this sector. It is a win-win partnership in the sense that the participants of the master’s programs and courses of the Johan Cruyff Institute have the chance to learn first-hand what our day-to-day training is like, how we work and how we manage ourselves. It is a unique added value that is sure to be very good for them and serves us to spread our knowledge as one of the main objectives of our existence, which is to spread the knowledge of what we generate.
As head of international affairs for the CAR, what is your main objective?
In this unit, which we created a couple of years ago, we have set ourselves the objective of addressing the internationalization of the CAR as a future means, in the sense of making ourselves known and creating international opportunities, which is what makes us more autonomous, gives us more independence and allows us to orient ourselves to work at an international level.
Our connection with the Olympic Committee following the Olympic Games, with international federations and with the events in which we participate, allows us to use this international resource as a means to improve the business. This gives us new experiences and an international atmosphere, when values like Barcelona as a tourist attraction, the CAR as a high-level sports facility and an environment with very high quality professionals enable the time spent there and work done to spread and generate resources for the organization, to sustain it better because, currently, 25% of the resources come from this environment of external resources and the international market is a very important market for us.
What are the main challenges facing high performance centers?
The CARs of the world with a similar model to ours differ from others that there are around the planet. Yes, it is true that it depends on the economic and social infrastructure of each country, but it has been, for us and for many countries, a way to get—with fewer resources—the most out of an infrastructure.
The countries with more resources have them dispersed, spend much more and get results, but having a CAR allows countries with fewer resources to increase their performance.
The challenge is how to understand this from a holistic point of view, from the point of view of understanding the athlete as a whole. If we only open CARs to prepare athletes to get medals, we are making a mistake.
The idea is that this infrastructure provides people pursuing a sports career with the training they need to get results, but also to have a quality of life and, at the end of that sports career, a way of life that has given them a new dimension, and they have integrated into society in a smooth and adequate way, in a social environment where sport has governed their life and has given them unique experiences that they will remember forever.
The sport industry has had a growing impact on the global economy over the last 20 years with investment in public infrastructure, mobilizing resources and creating new professions and jobs. Today it is one of the professional sectors with the most economic momentum, creating opportunities for many people who aspire to a future in the world of sports. Sports Management is a field of education concerning the business aspects of sports.Learn more!