LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has become the first country officially to recognize Parkour as a sport after approval by the four Home Country Sports Councils was confirmed on Tuesday.
“This is brilliant recognition for a discipline that started off as child’s play with my friends almost 30 years ago,” said Sebastien Foucan, the president of Parkour UK, in a statement.
Parkour, which involves running, climbing and jumping acrobatically around buildings and over terrain, was founded in France in the 1980s as Art du Deplacement — later taking its name from the French word ‘parcours’ (course or route).
The recognition by Sport England, sportscotland, Sport Wales and Sport Northern Ireland means Parkour UK becomes the official national governing body and can apply for lottery and state funding to support development.
British government Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said she was pleased with the move.
“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,” she said.
Foucan performed Parkour as the villain Mollaka in the 2006 James Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’.
While the potential dangers and anti-social elements, such as trespass and damage to property, have been highlighted in some media coverage, the recognized version is more carefully controlled.
“Parkour/Freerunning is now in the vast majority of primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities all over the UK,” said Parkour UK chief executive Eugene Minogue.
“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.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)