ASCERI... a European Sports Association

The football team of the German "Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe"  (KfK) had the idea to play against other teams from institutes also involved in nuclear research. Therefore, six teams from different German centres were invited to take part in a "Reaktoren Fußballturnier" in Karlsruhe on 2 July 1966.

This tournament was a great success and in 1967 the event moved to Jülich (Germany) and back to Karlsruhe in 1969 on invitation from EURATOM-Karlsruhe. This time, teams from research centres outside Germany were also invited. As a consequence, the event became what is now called "Internationales Reaktoren Fußballturnier (IRF)".

In 1972, on the initiative of  the Research Institute Seibersdorf (now AIT Vienna) an invitation was issued to stage a football and table tennis tournament.

In 1973, the football contest was extended to include nine different kinds of sports, a proposal made by Heinz Rhein, the then Chairman of the local company sports society KFA-Jülich. The event attracted 540 participants from 13 research institutes from five countries and was named "ATOMIADE". The name is derived from the work the different institutes are engaged in: nuclear (atomic) research.

From this point on, competitions took place regularly: the football teams meeting once a year and the ATOMIADE every three years.

As more and more research institutes participated in these competitions, it became necessary to formalise the organisation these events. The then delegate from FZ Jülich, Heinz Rhein, was considered to be the ideal person for this job as he had a proven track record as Chairman of his local company sports society. He was elected "Co-ordinator for Sports Meetings between European Research Institutes" (KSEF) at the 10th IRF delegate meeting in Mol on 27 May 1978.

A meeting of the delegates of the European research centres took place during every sports event where problems concerning the contests were discussed. Because of time constraints is was agreed during the 13th Football Match in Garching in 1981 to hold a separate delegate meetings independent of the competitions. The 1st Working Conference of the delegates of the Sports Communities of European Research Institutes (1st DATEF) was held in Garching. At first, these delegate meetings were only called on demand. From 1989 onwards, however, they became an annual event.

In 1981 the first Winter-ATOMIADE took place in Chamrousse and was organised ILL-Grenoble. 200 participants from five research institutes from four countries attended the event. The Winter-ATOMIADE takes places every three years and alternates with the Summer-ATOMIADE.

As more and more sports were included in these two ATOMIADEs it became necessary to have a common book of rules regarding not only the organisation but also the way of competing in these sports. Following a proposal made by the chairman of the company sports team HMI-Berlin, Gunther Herdam, during the 3rd DATEF meeting in Karlsruhe on 27th March 1987, a common rule book called "Vademecum" was introduced.

Expert committees for every sport were also introduced during the 3rd DATEF meeting in order to support the work of the co-ordinator.

In 1985, Heinz Rhein established contact with the research centre KFKI in Budapest in order to attract from the eastern part of Europe. In 1986 the sports society "Petöfi" of KFKI issued invitations for a veteran football tournament in Budapest under the direction of Julius Tímár.

In order to compete for the famous football challenge cup together with western athletes, the 1989 football tournament in Budapest also attracted teams from the former Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and German Democratic Republic.

The match resulted in an invitation for Heinz Rhein to come and visit the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow in December 1989. There, he successfully held talks concerning the participation of Russian institutes in future sports events.

In December 1990 four western European teams traveled to Moscow  to participate in an indoor football tournament organised by the Kurchatov Institute featuring six teams altogether.

As a result of the relaxation of cross-border travel regulations for citizens of eastern Europe in 1990, it was possible for eastern European athletes to take part in the 22nd Football Tournament held in Berlin.

The integration of the Russian teams into the sports events of the European research institutes was finally completed in 1992 when the Kurchatov Institute issued invitations for the international tennis tournament (8th ITEF) in Moscow. 14 teams took part including 11 teams from western Europe.

In 1992, Michèle Ulma from ASCEA-Saclay was elected vice co-ordinator during a DATEF in Pierrelatte (France) to assist the co-ordinator.

Following an initiative by Gunther Herdam from HMI-Berlin in 1998, the sports society of the European research institutes was given a new name: Association of the Sports Communities of the European Research Institutes - ASCERI.

Gunther Herdam from HMI-Berlin was elected as vice co-ordinator in 2000 along side Michèle Ulma.

In 2003, during the 11th ATOMIADE 2003 in Jülich, Heinz Rhein resigned from the duty of the co-ordinator for sports meeting of the European Research Institutes after 25 years and Gunther Herdam from the HMI-Berlin was unanimously elected as his successor.    

In 2007 the duty of the co-ordinator was renamed "President", the vice-co-ordinators into "Vice-president".

In 2012 Gunther Herdam resigned from his office of the President. Henry Koekenberg from JRC-Geel was unanimously elected President of ASCERI and took up office at the 14th ATOMIADE 2012. In 2018, Anne-Françoise Maydew from ESRF Grenoble was elected President of the ASCERI and took up office at the 16th Summer Atomiade in Varese, Italy.

ASCERI boasts a membership of 39 research institutes from 13 European countries.