Eric  Kersten

"This event actually looks and feels like the Paralympics, but with an even larger number of spectators. This is what the sport truly deserves."

That is what we, as the Local Organising Committee of the World Para Archery Championships, heard from the Paralympic athletes who had just completed their World Championships, held in the city centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands. 

In that summer of 2019, an archery stadium sprung up in the heart of the city. 

The unique, centrally located site, in combination with the spectacular sport, ensured full stands. 

It was a wonderful experience for residents and visitors of the city, athletes, fans and the organisation itself.

This experience, combined with learning moments gained during the Para-cycling track and road World Championships that we organised before, made us realise that there is only one way to make Parasport really successful. 

If you want to get the media and the public more interested in these spectacular sports, you must bring it out to the people. 

Offer the para athletes the same platform and treatment as all other athletes!

The 2019 World Archery Para Championships in Dutch city s-Hertogenbosch were the inspiration for the European Para Championships ©World Archery
The 2019 World Archery Para Championships in Dutch city s-Hertogenbosch were the inspiration for the European Para Championships ©World Archery

From that moment in 2019, we started desk research on all European Championships of a wide variety of Paralympic summer sports. 

We also envisaged a possible Para variant of the European Championships, which were organised for the first time in Glasgow and Berlin in 2018. 

Our investigation soon showed that the organisation of Parasport was characterised by an enormously fragmented landscape. 

The first challenge was clear: how could we unite the different world sports federations and European federations to achieve a successful multisport event?

Various parties and organisations involved subsequently joined our meetings and workshop to answer the above question. 

And of course, we wanted to prevent parties from being surprised by our initiative. In this way, a joint action plan was built.

We jointly foresaw the greatest chance of success in the summer of 2023, with the key requirement that there should be a relevant Paralympic link between our event and the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024. 

The European Paralympic Committee embraced this and awarded us the status of "regional games". 

This implied that the event could become a European equivalent of the Asian Para Games and the Parapan-American Games. 

Not only in 2023 but also in the longer term. 

What followed was a race against time, to finally be able to say with immense pride that ten different European Championships will take place in the heart of Rotterdam this summer, combined in one multisport event: the European Para Championships! 

We are immensely looking forward to hosting the top athletes and facilitating them on their way to Paris 2024 at a Championships due to take place between August 8 and 20. 

And of course, this will not stop after the summer of 2023. 

In 2027, 2031 and beyond, this event will move to another major European - capital - city. 

The various international associations are very enthusiastic and next summer we will repay that trust with a top event, realized with the Dutch approach. 

We are looking forward to launching this concept next summer and making a real impact for Parasport.

The mission of the European Para Championships is to create a new standard for Paralympic sports events worldwide and to inspire people - with or without disabilities, rich or poor, young or old and regardless of background - to take up sports and exercise. 

We believe that only cooperation can help us succeed in this mission. 

By making connections, thinking big and believing in opportunities where others see limitations, we want to give adaptive sports the attention it deserves!