ISCA interview with Nordea Foundation director Henrik Lehmann Andersen: "Why we are engaging in sports and cycling"


"Cycling is a perfect way to get more people moving. That's why the Nordea Foundation supports cycling playgrounds (cykellegebaner) and the 'On Bike with DGI' (På Cykel med DGI) project," the Danish Nordea Foundation wrote on Twitter on the opening day of the Journey of Hope event. Its Director, Henrik Lehmann Andersen, joined the celebration on 18 August and told ISCA why his foundation is getting behind this accessible mode of transport, why a cycling-friendly nation like Denmark can still learn from other countries, and what attracts him to an initiative.

ISCA: What do you think are the messages that come out of an event like this, a Journey of Hope of long distance cycling by recreational cyclists?

HLA: The message is that it’s for everybody. It’s not for specialists or extremely fit, Olympic Games-looking people, it’s for everybody. So that’s the main perspective and that’s why we are engaging ourselves, as a Danish foundation, in sports and in cycling. It’s not for the elite; it’s for everybody. So to get everybody to do it, to get everybody committed and to get everybody to learn how to do it, that’s the really important thing for us.

ISCA: Do you think that’s also an important thing for active transport and promoting that around Europe as well?

HLA: Of course there is a perspective in this thing on cycling across borders to connect people and to get people to know each other across borders and across cultures. That’s a really important thing too. But that’s not the issue of the foundation I work for.

ISCA: Denmark in that sense has a lot to contribute in inspiring other countries. What do you think Denmark can get back from the other countries as inspiration in this kind of area?

HLA: I think there is a lot of inspiration to catch up on from other countries, in fact every country. Sometimes you think you’re the centre of everything and that everybody else should learn from you, but there are always a lot of things you can learn from others. In this field, there’s a lot to learn from having a broader perspective on cycling – on how a lot of different communities work, on the initiatives they take and how they get people to participate. That’s one of the challenges we have in Denmark, because there are so many things you can do, so many things where you can be active, so how do you get them to see you? To see you in their daily life and get engaged in this cycling.

ISCA: So what do you think are the key elements of a really good initiative that you’ve seen or supported that really gets people active?

HLA: The main thing is people’s engagement. That if you experience other people being engaged, lively and full of energy, then you get inspired. And then you commit to what they are doing. And you find your role to play with your commitment in some way, no matter whether it’s cycling or social issues, or whatever it is.

ISCA: And have you got any final thoughts or messages for the team as they depart on their great journey?

HLA: Just keep up the good spirit and use each other’s strong points, which can be both physical and mental.

Find out more about the Nordea Foundation

The Journey of Hope is co-funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Sport programme and promotes the #BeActive message.