The UK has becomes the first country in the world to officially recognise parkour as a sport, after the Home Country Sports Councils approved Parkour UK’s application for recognition of the sport and the National Governing Body.
The Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch, alongside the President of Parkour UK and a founder of parkour, Sebastien Foucan, announced the formal recognition of parkour as a sport and Parkour UK as the recognised NGB for the sport in the UK. The announcement was made at LEAP Parkour Park, England’s largest outdoor parkour facility at Westminster Academy in London. The park was launched by Westminster City Council in partnership with Parkour UK in Jan 2012.
Parkour, also known as freerunning or art du deplacement, is the non-competitive physical discipline of training to move freely over and through any terrain using only the abilities of the body, principally through running, jumping, climbing and quadrupedal movement. In practice it focuses on developing the fundamental attributes required for such movement, including functional strength and fitness, balance, spatial awareness, agility, coordination, precision, control and creative vision.
Parkour motivates people to get active. Participants can take part in the sport whenever and wherever they want, without needing to meticulously manage their busy diaries, buy special equipment, join a club, or book a pitch or court. All you need is a pair of trainers and your imagination to #GiveParkourAGo!
The recognition of parkour as a sport, and Parkour UK as the National Governing Body (NGB) by the Home Country Sports Councils - Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland, sportscotland, Sport Wales and UK Sport follows completion of the UK recognition process by Parkour UK.
Parkour UK, was established in 2009 by the nation’s parkour community and the City of Westminster. It began the formal recognition process in March 2013, with the pre application for recognition approved in March 2014. The full application for recognition was submitted in August 2015 and was recommended for approval by the UK Recognition Panel in Dec 2015. During 2016 the Boards of the Home Country Sports Councils approved the full application for recognition, with the final confirmation of recognition being confirmed in October 2016.
Recognition will enable parkour groups and organisations affiliated to Parkour UK to apply to the home country sports councils for lottery or exchequer funding to support the development of the sport locally in each home nation.
Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch, said: "I want people to get out there and find the sport and physical activity that appeals to them and parkour is certainly a fun, creative and innovative option. I am pleased it has been recognised as a sport, giving it the platform for further growth in this country with Parkour UK as its governing body. The sport promotes movement, using the great outdoors as a space to get active in, and I encourage people to don their trainers and give it a go."
President of Parkour UK, Sebastien Foucan, said: "This is brilliant recognition for a discipline that started off as child's play with my friends almost 30 years ago. The beauty of parkour is that everyone of all ages can do it respectfully in almost any environment. We celebrate activity and playfulness whilst constantly challenging our mental and physical limits. It is more than just jumping, it is a health driven way of life."
As the National Governing Body for parkour, Parkour UK provides governance and regulation of parkour throughout the UK, acts as custodians of the sport, protects the rights and freedoms, and promotes the interests of freerunners, their member organisations and the UK community.
Parkour UK works closely with partners to encourage and develop the safe and appropriate practice of parkour. The organisation also works with local groups, organisations, national organisations/bodies, councils and constabularies.
Since its creation, Parkour UK has successfully developed and promoted an open and inclusive organisation, encouraging people of all ages, backgrounds or abilities to #GiveParkourAGo with their member organisations across the UK.
Parkour UK has also forged a close relationship with the education sector, developing programmes around videography and photography and cross-curricular links around the history and culture of the sport. It has developed literacy projects that use parkour to teach the French language – Parlez Vous Parkour?
Chief Executive at Parkour UK, Eugene Minogue, said: “Parkour has come a long way since first arriving in the UK in 2003 with the seminal documentary, Jump London and Jump Britain in 2005, both staring Sebastien Foucan. This was followed up by Jump Westminster in 2007, which led to the creation of Parkour UK. Parkour is now in the vast majority of primary & secondary schools, colleges and universities all over the UK. The discipline has now been formally recognised as a sport with Parkour UK recognised as the National Governing Body. We have built a qualified workforce of over 600 people, we have led the development of a British, and now a European standard for Parkour Equipment. As a result, there are now more than 50 Parkour Parks across the UK. All this in just over 7 years is an amazing achievement and testament to the unique and diverse Parkour/Freerunning community in the UK, which is world leading!”
The Parkour UK community, which is how Parkour UK describes its membership of affiliated organisations & practitioners, covering all four home nations of the UK is incredibly rich in its diversity.
Parkour celebrates female participation and has also demonstrated huge success engaging with children, teenagers and families. There are also examples of people over the age of 60 practicing parkour and reaping all the benefits associated with regular participation in this incredible form of physical activity.
Parkour UK and its community are pioneering innovative programmes, including: Parkour for Mental Health, Parkour for Older People, Family Parkour as well as parkour academies. Parkour offers something new, innovative and engaging to those who want to get active but may find mainstream sports or activities unappealing.
Director of Sport at Sport England, Phil Smith (for and on behalf of the Home Country Sports Councils) said: "As the number of people involved in regular sport and physical activity continues to grow, choice becomes increasingly important. Parkour has already been offering something different for a few years now, but what recognition means is that Parkour UK is taking responsibility for its organisation. The safety and enjoyment of those taking part is paramount, so congratulations to Parkour UK on achieving the standards and showing their ambition to grow even further."