The EOC has launched its EYOA programme for the fifth time at the EYOF in Banská Bystrica ©EOC

The European Young Olympic Ambassador (EYOA) programme is underway for its fifth edition at the Banská Bystrica European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in a bid to instil values of excellence, friendship and respect among athletes.

The initiative, set up by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) recruits athletes aged 18 to 25 and currently has 22 members, including Tokyo 2020 rhythmic gymnastics gold medallist Linoy Ashram of Israel.

"What is as equally important of the athletes' sporting performance is the EYOA programme which we are improving upon each edition," EOC President Spyros Capralos told insidethegames.

"The ambassadors have been trained by us.

"Some are gold medallists from Tokyo, some are participants and medallists from EYOF in the past.

"These people have been through education and to perform in their role and they are there to provide a lot of information and know-how through games and different activities to promote the Olympic values and our principles.

"This is something I think is really important because I think it is not only important to excel in sport, but it is also important to understand that through sport we make a better society."

Olympic gold medallist Linoy Ashram of Israel has joined the EYOA programme ©Getty Images
Olympic gold medallist Linoy Ashram of Israel has joined the EYOA programme ©Getty Images

A dedicated site has been established in the EYOF Banská Bystrica 2022 Sports Park for the EYOA programme.

It is intended to encourage the young athletes at the event to participate in activities, while also engaging with competitors from other countries and learning valuable skills both as an athlete and person.

Activities include Olympic quizzes and human bingo, where athletes learn past and present facts about the Games.

"Our programme teaches athletes about the history of the Olympic Games and explains how these values have helped create an environment that focuses on more than simply winning or losing," said EYOA alumni Alfred Varnik of Estonia, who has been part of the programme for three years.

"We feel that the Olympic Values are not only something that young athletes should know, but also the professional athletes." 

The programme is led by Clea Papaellina and Natasa Jankovic, vice-chair and member of the EOC Culture and Education Commission, who are eager to develop the EYOA.

"We want to continue to grow the EYOA so that more European countries are represented in the programme for future EYOFs," said Papaellina.