Lithuanian Sports University (LSU) has taken the initiative to create a unified dual career system for athletes to help athletes of all ages from all over the country to plan an individual career and prepare for work after finishing their career in sport. Today, the National Centre for Dual Career of Athletes was presented at a press conference organized by LSU.
According to the author of the idea of the Centre Dr. Inga Staškevičiūtė-Butienė, it will be open to everyone – not only to active schoolchildren, students or elite athletes, but also to their family members, coaches, representatives of sports federations, associations and clubs from all over Lithuania. This Centre will provide informal training and individual consultations for athletes and other people related to sports, as well as introduce them to dual career opportunities. “International research shows that a third of athletes between the ages of 10 and 17 retire every year because they believe that sport takes too much time and hinders learning, and that athletes who have completed an active sports career face many challenges, both psychological and in the labour market. Thus, not only motivation and dedication are needed, but also special measures so that talented athletes do not have to choose between education, work and sport,” said Dr. Inga Staškevičiūtė-Butienė.
The need to create a dual career centre for athletes and a unified system in Lithuania is emphasized and supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. “Athletes from other European countries face similar challenges, but they have various dual career programmes for athletes. Until now, only individual schools and higher education institutions in Lithuania helped athletes to combine sport, education and studies. Thus, it is very important to create a unified dual career planning system for athletes of all ages, which will help to achieve sports results and study or work successfully,” said Vice-Minister Kornelija Tiesnesytė.
According to the Rector Prof. Dr. Diana Rėklaitienė, LSU has been creating conditions for elite athletes to play sports intensively and study according to an individual study plan for several decades. “A career centre uniting all athletes would help them plan their careers even more purposefully, provide psychological support, introduce them to various internships and job opportunities, encourage coaches to train athletes responsibly, think about future activities, and encourage parents and employers to create opportunities for athletes to play sports for as long as possible,” said D. Rėklaitienė.
Lithuanian walking champion Brigita Virbalytė-Dimšienė was glad that she managed to combine sport, studies and work on television. “Sport has always been very important to me, but while studying and working, I felt I had something to rely on if I could not play sports due to injuries or other circumstances. Dual career gives athletes confidence,” said B. Virbalytė-Dimšienė.
LSU alumnus, World and European champion, discus thrower Andrius Gudžius claims his life has been a real success so far. “In sports, at school and at university, I was surrounded by people who helped me achieve results, seek for knowledge and get a diploma. However, teenagers and high school graduates who do well in both sports and science are often forced to choose due to a variety of circumstances. In order to avoid this, it would be very useful for them to have systematic consultations on the advantages of a dual career,” said A. Gudžius.
Project “Establishment of a National Centre for Dual Career of Athletes” is co-financed by the Sport Support Foundation and administered by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Education Exchanges Support Foundation.