When cities, regions or nations discuss how to create effective and sustainable benefits from a major event to be hosted in their place, the focus is often on so-called “legacy programmes”. What is meant by that is that some new programmes are created, which then can be introduced as a direct link to the event hosting. The focus of such programmes can vary a lot, but inspiring more young people to get involved in sport is among the clear favourites.

Establishing such legacy programmes might work well in some cases, but definitely not always. Mainly, because of two reasons: Firstly, because a lot of  efforts have to be allocated to the organisation of the event. Implementing new legacy programmes at the same time might be stretching the capacities of the organisers and the host city. And secondly, the funding of such programmes is often – at least partly – cross-financed with funds of existing programmes, which then of course are weakened.

Is there a better approach for creating sustainable benefits from a major event?

Well, an alternative would simply be to enhance and improve what is already there! Any newly created legacy programme would to a certain extent overlap with an existing programme, which has proved its benefits and effects over the years; after all there is a reason it is there. So why not just improve that instead of creating new initiatives?

Leveraging existing programmes can be the most effective way to create legacy from major events. It not only reduces workload linked to planning and setting up new initiatives but it is also an investment in something that has already been tested.

Sometimes it is worth thinking inside the box!