The George Torkildsen Literary Award seeks to perpetuate the memory of this remarkable individual who served as Chair of the World Leisure Board of Directors (1996 – 2004). He was the first community sports center manager in Britain and has been called the father of sport and leisure in that country.

George Torkildsen (1934 – 2005) was a pioneer and leader to the emergent profession of recreation management. Trained as a Physical Education teacher, he started his career in community leisure management in Harlow, England in the 1960s, managing the first all-purpose leisure centre in the United Kingdom. Following periods of study in North America, George was awarded a well-deserved doctorate. He established a leisure management consultancy, Pickering Torkildsen, in partnership with Ron Pickering, the celebrated BBC TV athletics commentator. After Ron’s death, George continued his consultancy work, eventually forming the Torkildsen Barclay Partnership.

George was a leader who took the leisure management profession forward. He taught on many post-graduate leisure and recreation courses. He worked faultlessly and tirelessly improving standards and focusing on excellence of delivery. He was active and well respected throughout the United Kingdom and around the world. Both the main UK leisure management institutes honoured him with life memberships.

A prolific writer, lecturer and teacher, he authored Leisure and Recreation Management, Leisure Management A to Z: A Dictionary of Terms, and Torkildsen’s Guides to Leisure Management. These publications have become standard coursework reading on many leisure management courses around the world.

In 2005, he conceived and implemented the concept of an International Innovation Prize for leisure management projects which the World Leisure Organization first awarded in 2006. In his memory, the trophy awarded to winning projects is known as “The George”.

This award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the recreation, parks and leisure service literature by advancing innovative ideas, thoughts and/or philosophical perspectives.

Award & Benefits

  • Free registration to attend the 16th World Leisure Hybrid Congress. (*Online registration to participate in virtual sessions if international and cannot attend in person).
  • Acknowledgement of her/his contribution to a large world-wide audience in a hybrid Awards Ceremony.
  • The World Leisure Journal will provide temporary free/open access to selected articles published by the recipient.
  • The winner of the Award will be part of the story line of the Awards in the WLO, and it will be promoted by WLO in the following means: a dedicated space in the WLO website and announcement in the WL News – Newsletter, together with an interview. Furthermore, all these communication actions will be fostered through the WLO various social media channels and specifically disseminated by leisure media strategic partners.


Criteria for Selection

• Contributions that advance the professional literature in the area of recreation, parks, conservation, environment or leisure;
• Research or scholarly endeavors that significantly influence new ideas, concepts and/or reveal new insights into recreation, parks, conservation, environment or leisure;
• Ideas, concepts or writings that arouse professional awareness and/or provide new insights leading to major changes in the way in which the recreation, park and leisure service movement is viewed or practiced; and
• Significant literary activities over a life time that reflect continuous and sustained contributions. Contributions may be reflected in a series of articles, books, lectures, research and technical reports, monographs or other forms.

Selection Procedures

Applications will be evaluated on:

• Their literary contributions to advancing leisure concerns worldwide;
• The impact of such contributions as reflected in their influence to the general public and/or profession; and
• The clarity, solutions and insights brought to emerging trends, issues and concepts as well as issues, problems and concerns.

Application/Award Procedures

The nomination file should include the following:
• Name of the individual, title, organizational affiliation and full contact details;
• A written statement of not more than 1,000 words that addresses the nominees scholarly efforts and/or other professional contributions, referencing the impact that the nominees contributions have made to the literature; and
• The nominees curriculum vita.
• Nominations are due on 18th December, 2020.
• Please send nominations in pdf format via email to World Leisure Secretariat:
• Applications are evaluated by a selection committee drawn from World Leisure Board of Directors and the Chief Operating Officer.

• Applications are evaluated by a selection committee drawn from World Leisure Board of Directors and the Chief Operating Officer.


2014 Atara Sivan

Dr. Sivan is Professor, Department of Education Studies and Associate Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University. She serves in different leading capacities of the World Leisure Organization including the President of the World Leisure Academy and the Editor-in-Chief of World Leisure Journal. A well-recognized scholar, Dr. Sivan has made an invaluable contribution to the field of knowledge and practice of leisure education. Dr. Sivan’s research is evident through her authoring or editing of six books and compendiums. In addition, Dr. Sivan has published over 60 academic papers and book chapters as well as 20 reports. This scholarly output as well as her community outreach activities has resulted in over 40 competitive grants, which have been obtained from large-scale university, government, strategy development and consultancy competitive funds. She has also made numerous keynote and invited presentations and conducted seminars in international conferences bringing a global insight to the field. Dr. Sivan’s passion and dedication has been illustrated in undertaking major leadership roles in the area of leisure education. These include serving as the scientific advisor to the development of the first comprehensive leisure education curriculum for schools in Israel, founder and president of the World Leisure Organization – Hong Kong Chapter and leader of outreach community projects on leisure education and well-being.

2010 Karla A. Henderson

Karla A. Henderson is currently a Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at North Carolina State University. She has given numerous presentations throughout North America, South American, Europe, Asia, and Australia and publishes regularly in a variety of journals in the field. Among her authored or co-authored books are: Both Gains and Gaps (with Bialeschki, Shaw, and Freysinger), Dimensions of Choice, Introduction to Recreation and Leisure Services, and Evaluation of Leisure Services (with Bialeschki). She has just completed seven years of co-editing Leisure Sciences. Dr. Henderson has contributed to the profession in a number of ways by serving as president of Society of Park and Recreation Educators, president of the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Research Consortium, President of the Academy of Leisure Sciences, and on numerous state, national, and international boards and committees. She is a member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences, American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administrators, American Leisure Academy, and the World Leisure Academy. In 2011, Dr. Henderson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. When not working, Karla enjoys hiking in the Rocky Mountains, running and playing.

2012 Tony Veal

Tony Veal is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).  He worked in local government in the UK and at the Universities of Birmingham and North London before joining UTS in 1986.  He is a past President of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies (ANZALS), former Chair of the LSA and former Board Member of the World Leisure Organization.  He is author, joint author/editor of: A Handbook of Leisure Studies (2006); Research Methods for Leisure and Tourism (2009); Work and Leisure (2004); Australian Leisure (2012); Free Time and Leisure Participation: International Perspectives (2005); Leisure, Sport and Tourism, Politics, Policy and Planning (2004); The Olympic Games: A Social Perspective (2007).