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150 years of Sokol in the Czech Republic

photo:  (wikipedia.org)

The Czech Sokol Community or Sokol (from the Slavic word for falcon) is a volunteer sports movement that associates more than 190 thousand members. They actively practice various sports and physical and cultural activities. This association has a very a long and well-established tradition in the Czech Republic.

The Sokol association was founded in 1862. It was abolished four times since then and its activities have been restricted by wars as well as by the political regime, which resulted from the patriotic nature of Sokol, being evident from its very start. The presentation of its members, such as trips in folk costumes, participation in national ceremonies, public exercising, etc., has always promoted national consciousness. The last and longest abolishment of their activities was imposed in 1948 when the Communists seized power in the country. In 1990, Sokol was once again revived and continued in its former programme traditions. The most widespread activity of the association is the programme of the so-called Sokol versatility based on physical activities and recreational sports for all people including the disabled.

The biggest event organised by Sokol is the všesokolský slet (“meeting of all Sokol members”) taking place once every six years. The tradition of these meetings originated in June 1882 and the first “slet” counted more than 700 sportspeople. The Všesokolský slet is the climax of the effort of Sokol members who present themselves by public exercising. It is usually connected with the meeting of Sokol members from all over the world, making it a social event with a wide range of accompanying events.

In 2012, the Sokol association will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its foundation. On this occasion, a rich programme is being prepared, of which the most important part will be the 15th Všesokolský slet, also called 150 years in motion Prague 2012, which will take place from 1–6 July 2012 at the Prague stadium Eden. It is estimated that 13 to 15 thousand people will participate in the public exercising. Apart from Czechs, Sokol members from the USA, Canada, Australia and other European countries will also arrive.

The “Slet” does not only mean mass exercising at a stadium. On the opening day of 1 July, there will be a parade through Prague as well. In the following days, podium performances and sets of exercises will be also performed. These collective exercises are planned for the end of the week on the evening of 5 July and the afternoon of the following day.

The cultural programme will be provided by Sokol theatre, folklore and music groups. There will be various sport competitions as well. At Tyrš House in Prague in the Lesser Town quarter, the headquarters of the Sokol community, you may visit an exhibition dedicated to the history of Sokol. Its members will also climb the Petřín View Tower with lit lampions.

You can find detailed information about the programme here.
Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 01.05.2012

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