European Traditional Sports and Games Association

The European Association for Traditional Sports and Games

A Network of Networks, a Team of Teams

In 2001, nearly a hundred delegates from different organisations decided to create the European Association for Traditional Sports and Games (AEJeST), at the service of Traditional Sports and Games (TSG). This initiative followed several international scientific meetings and festivals held between the 1980s and 1990s.

The founding members wanted to activate a network of networks between different European institutions around traditional games and sports. These organisations represent educational institutions (universities, training schools), federations, sports associations, cultural associations, museums and people who are sensitive to the TSG..

Constituent meeting (Lesneven, Brittany, France, May 2001)

AEJeST is a non-governmental organization recognized by UNESCO. Precisely in 2009 UNESCO, through the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS), organized a collective consultation in Tehran (Iran) with the purpose of creating an international platform for the development of the Traditional Games and Sports worldwide. At that meeting, a text was agreed on the concept of the TSG:

  • Traditional games are leisure and recreational activities, which can have a ritual character. Coming from regional or local identity, they are part of the diversity of the universal heritage. Practiced individually or collectively, they are based on rules accepted by the group organizing these activities, whether competitive or not. Traditional games are popular in their practice and organization, although if they are transformed into sport they tend to become uniform and institutionalized.

The will to work in a network made the AEJeST one of the founding organizations of the International Traditional Games and Sports Association (ITSGA), represented by organizations from Africa, Asia, America and Europe.

The TSG identify their originality in each of the motor actions that emerge from their internal logic, as it is a manifestation that becomes visible through body language.

The hundreds of traditional games that have been developed by the ludic communities of the different European regions, show a very varied intangible cultural heritage. The plurality of original rules, of ways of relating to each other through movement, of spaces, of objects that are used, of calendars and temporal rhythms as well as of verbal expressions that accompany them, give rise to an exuberant ludodiversity (Parlebas, 2001[1]; Renson, 2004[2]).

First meeting to elaborate the Statutes (Santander, Cantabria, Spain, November 2001)
Meeting to finalize the Statutes (Campo, Aragón, Spain, November 2001)

Any TSG acts as a society in miniature, a way to enter society and to socialize (Parlebas, 2001). At present in Europe people belonging to different ethnic groups and cultures live together. For people from other cultures, many of the rules offered by traditional games represent unfamiliar ways of putting their bodies into action and making motorized contact with other participants. For an immigrant, participating in a casteller group (human towers), a skittles team, a foot race, a traditional wrestling match, a ball game or an Oina championship is an excellent way of living using a body language within that local culture, promoting inclusion, equal opportunities, sustainability, diversity and cultural tolerance.

To enter into play is to enter into society. The TSG invites to the social meeting of people who, when participating in a game, express the will to share an experience with other protagonists.

The TSG, as an intangible cultural heritage, is a fabulous setting for interpersonal relations aimed at personal and social well-being. The TSG offers extraordinary possibilities for expanding open, flexible and adaptable sociability to changing environments. Through their body language, game participants convey feelings, knowledge and learning that testify to a way of living in society.

All these arguments constitute the “north”, of action plan of AEJeST in its interest to study, maintain and promote the TSG as part of the intangible play heritage. This cultural heritage that the TSG gather constitutes a real wealth of the European culture and of the rest of the societies existing all over the planet.

The AEJeST, an association in favour of the ludic intangible cultural heritage.

Let us think globally to act locally.

Pere Lavega

President of the AEJeST (from 2017)


[1] Parlebas, P. (2001). Juegos, Deporte y sociedad. Léxico de praxiología motriz. Barcelona: Paidotribo.

[1] Renson, R. (2004). Ludodiversity: Extintion, Survival and Invention of Movement Culture. Saint Augustin: Academia Verlag.