Ema Geron

13 October 1920 – 11 March 2011 

The Managing Council of FEPSAC, during its meeting in Budapest, received the sad news that the founding president of FEPSAC, Ema Geron, had passed away the 11 of March 2011.

Ema Geron was born on October 13th in Sliven, Bulgaria. She graduated at the University St. Kliment Ohriski in Sofia and defended her doctorate in 1955 at the Higher Institute of Physical Education in Sofia where she became associate professor and head of the psychology laboratory for national sport teams. Her scientific work on psychological preparation of competitions, on concentration and volition, on psychological characteristics in different sports, represent important contributions in that early period of sport psychology. Her research on gymnastics with a special focus on female athletes may be considered as the dawn of the gender perspective in sport psychology. In 1967 she became full professor.

Ema Geron attended the very first international sport psychology congress in Rome in 1965, where the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP) was founded. This congress broadened Ema Geron’s view on sport psychology and also marked the starting point of her international work. She took on responsibility to organise an International Scientific Conference on the Problems of the Psychological Preparation of Athletes in Varna, Bulgaria, December 3-5, 1968. A short time before this conference, the 2nd ISSP-Conference was held in Washington D.C. and the opportunity was taken in Varna to discuss the creation of an European Association for Sport Psychology. This idea was strongly supported by Ema Geron. After the elaboration of the statutes, the Fédération Européene de Psychologie des Sport et des Activitées Corporelles (FEPSAC) was founded in 1969 in Vittel, France and multilingual Ema Geron was elected as the first President. She considered FEPSAC as her child and navigated the federation through the first stormy years, chairing altogether 10 Managing Council meetings until 1973 in Madrid.

Together with her husband, she decided to leave Bulgaria and to move to Israel. Since she was no longer considered as a representative of Bulgaria, she had to resign from her position as president of FEPSAC. To be excluded from the organisation she had helped to build up was a very sad moment in her life, as was the fact to leave her son back in Bulgaria.

In Israel Ema Geron found a position at the Wingate Institute, where she created a laboratory for psychological research and a behaviour psychology section. She initiated the foundation of the Israeli Society for Sport Psychology and Sociology and became its first president in 1974. She also taught sport psychology to the physical education students at Zinman College and published several textbooks in English, for example on Children in Sport and Introduction to Sport Psychology.

In 1991, Ema Geron participated in the VIIIth European Congress in Cologne where she was warmly received by her FEPSAC colleagues, evocating the reminder of her third congress in 1972. In 1993, Ema Geron justly received the ISSP Distinguished International Sport Psychologist Award. An excellent opportunity for her old colleagues and former students from all over the world to meet her again was on the occasion of the ISSP-Congress in 1997 at Wingate in Israel.

Despite being retired, Ema Geron did not stop being very active. Shortly before she died she saw the publication of her book in Hebrew on Motivation for physical activity and sport, together with Shulamit Raviv and Ronnie Lidor.

On March 11th 2011 Ema left us surrounded by her friends and also her son Ilko was with her. We are losing a very unique person, a strong woman in the mainly male dominated sport psychology world, a great colleague and especially a nice and gentle friend. FEPSAC and all sport psychologists will remember her fondly and with a deep and abiding respect.

Roland Seiler, with the help of Miki Bar-Eli, Julia Mutafova, Shulamit Raviv, Glyn Roberts, Guido Schilling, and Natalia Stambulova