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Pompeu Fabra’s great sporting dream is coming true again 87 years later

BarcelonaOn 3 July 1933, at the premises of the Catalan Wrestling Federation, different important figures in Catalan sport at the time met to promote an organization that could represent all Catalan sport. It was the birth of the Catalan Union of Sports Federations, the UCFE. The president of the Tennis Federation, then known as the Lawn Tennis Association, a common term at the time, could not attend for work reasons, but was unanimously elected as the first president: it was Pompeu Fabra . The philologist who dedicated his life to creating modern regulations for the Catalan language was a great sports enthusiast and defended the role that sports should play in a healthy and modern society. For this reason, in 1935 he was the promoter of the first Catalan Sports Week, which brought together thousands of athletes. To experience the second, we had to wait until now, when the UFEC has recovered the idea with an appointment that will take place in the regions of Girona from 13 to 23 October.

The first Catalan Sports Week was held in Barcelona from May 25 to June 2, 1935, with an extensive program that combined sport and culture. Pompeu Fabra inaugurated it, appearing in many competitions, such as athletics, in which they competed against a Portuguese team from Lisbon. In swimming, they competed against a team from Basel, and in boxing, against the French. Catalan Sports Week also hosted several championships in Catalonia and Spain in the program, in addition to international duels, in emblematic spaces such as the Montjuïc Stadium, the Gran Price or the Port of Barcelona. There was also a sports cinema session at Cine Urquinaona in which Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer collaborated.

“We wanted to pay tribute to the first era of the UFEC, the republican one. And to the first president, Pompeu Fabra. And the way he understood sport: the best way to reach all the houses to bring values, make happier people and to expand the social use of Catalan. And this is what we are working on today,” UFEC president Gerard Esteva explains to ARA. “This is why we have recovered the project. To bring the sport to more homes and show that we have the best athletes. We have invited 22 countries that will come with their teams to fight against our Catalan teams. We want to show that we can compete against the best in the world”. The second edition will arrive with more than 2,000 athletes from 22 countries, thirty sports federations involved and competitions in 30 different sports that will be held in 20 venues in the Girona region. “Catalonia returns to the international stage to show the world the excellence of its athletes, its high-level sports facilities and its federative prestige through the Catalan national teams”, he remarked in the official presentation the Councilor of the Presidency, Laura Vilagrà Pons.

Pompeu Fabra, the sportsman

The first Catalan Sports Week was held a year before the famous People’s Olympics organized in 1936 as a counterpart to the Olympic Games in Hitler’s Germany. A golden age of Catalan sport that was interrupted by the Civil War. Pompeu Fabra played a key role, often forgotten, as he felt a passion for sports, such as hiking. In fact, he practiced it. From his stay in Bilbao, he retained his love for Basque football, which he called ball with a shovel. A sport that filled pediments with thousands of people in Barcelona, ​​then. In addition, he practiced tennis and swimming. His eldest daughter, Carola, became champion of Catalonia in tennis, the sport in which Fabra had the most weight. Despite never competing, since he played there just for fun, he was part of the tennis section of FC Barcelona – it is not recorded that he was a member of the club, however – and once he came to live in Badalona, ​​where he wanted to put down roots to live in front of the sea and swim, he was one of the founders of Badalona Lawn Tennis. Then he would go through the tennis club of Masnou and, finally, he would come to preside over the Catalan Federation. In Badalona, ​​by the way, he was one of the founders of Club Natació Pop.

Fabra was also one of the promoters of the establishment of a weekly radio program on sports in Catalan on Ràdio Barcelona. “The Catalan Union of Sports Federations has organized this weekly quarter of an hour on Catalan sport, in which the representatives of all the sports practiced in Catalonia will speak successively. It would have been difficult to find a way to find on the radio a complete information on Catalan sport, without an understanding between all the federations. The understanding is today a fact, all sports lovers wanted it and it has been with great satisfaction that we have seen it, in the end, carried out, with the constitution of the Catalan Union of Sports Federations. Allow me, to finish, to express our gratitude to Ràdio Barcelona”, he said at the presentation of the first program.

Pompeu Fabra on top of a log during an excursion.

More than 20 sports and prizes

The war stopped everything, however. And the idea of ​​a Catalan Sports Week has not been recovered until now. The inauguration of the II Catalan Sports Week will take place on Thursday 13 October at the Municipal Sports Hall of Olot with the dispute of a top-level international roller hockey tournament. The GoldenCat will face the Catalan men’s and women’s teams against Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy. The debut will be at 7 p.m., with the women’s duel between Catalonia and Switzerland, and at 9 p.m. it will be the men’s team’s turn, which will face France. During the evening this sports inauguration will have a show and live music. The Catalan sports federations have organized exhibition days aimed at family and school audiences, such as archery, wrestling and athletics or cycling, which will have the presence of the current world champion in the exhibition of biketrialon October 22 in Ripoll.

During the II Catalan Sports Week you can enjoy international sports dance meetings, billiards, orienteering, chess, futsal, handball, horseballbasketball, hunting, sports for people with mental disabilities, paddle for deaf people, pentathlon, pétanque, pitch & puttpolo, swimming with fins (underwater activities), table tennis and twirling between the Catalan and other international teams, mostly European, such as Portugal, France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland and Great Britain. The entire program can be consulted on the official website.

Finally, on October 22nd, the closing ceremony of the II Catalan Sports Week will take place in the Hall of the Auditorium of Girona. In addition to musical performances, there will be a parade of flags with representatives of all the participating countries, institutional speeches and the presentation of four special awards: the Pompeu Fabra Award, to an entity that promotes the use of Catalan in sports field; the David Moner Award, to a foreign entity that collaborates in the promotion of Catalan sport; the Ramon Basiana Award, to an entity that promotes the internationalization of its sport, and the Dolors Vives Award, to an entity that promotes the internationalization of Catalan women’s sport.

The presentation of the second Catalan Sports Week.

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