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15.02.2015 - Ausgabe: 1/2015

Collective community planning and organisation for sport and exercise

By Dr. Stefan Eckl (Institut für Kooperative Planung und Sportentwicklung, Stuttgart)


Do we have too many or not enough sports facilities? How can we make our sports clubs future-oriented? How can we bring schools and clubs together with regard to day schools? How should promotion of sport be organised in future? How can we efficiently control capacity utilisation of our sports halls? What requirements do people have on sports clubs and communities?


This and similar questions are being posed by very many communities irrespective of whether in a small village with 2500 inhabitants or in a metropolis. Today, given the changed sport and leisure requirements of the population, demographic developments and changes in the educational system (e.g. day schools, exercise for pre-school children), communities are increasingly being faced with the question of whether organisation of community sport is still future-oriented. On the one hand are the demands from sports clubs, schools and in some cases from hobby athletes, on the other hand, communities have continually decreasing funds available to satisfy all requirements.

Community sport development planning, involving creation of guidelines for future sport policy and recommendations for action in cooperation with all those fractions involved, can be a method to avoid this dilemma. This applies not only to classical areas such as school and club sport facilities, but also for leisure-time sport and exercise as well as sporting offers and organisational questions.

Sport development planning offers an opportunity allowing rational decisions to be made which are oriented towards satisfying requirements while, at the same time being consensual. This leads to a situation where both "sport" and those responsible for community decisions are provided with a planning basis which ensures planning reliability for all those involved.



Planning approaches

The method usually used now has been developed significantly further in the last years compared to the 1970s and 1980s. During the 1970s, the so-called "Golden Plan" was a mandatory planning tool. Based on guide values (e.g. 4 square metres of sports field per inhabitant), it was possible to calculate in a relatively simple way the number of sports facilities a town or village should have to ensure good availability to the population. This "Golden Plan" was continued after 1990 in the new German states as the Golden Plan East while at the same time, a change in perspective was developing in the previously West German states.

At the beginning of the 1990s, aspects of orientation towards requirements and demands were given more focus in the discussion of which methods to use. This resulted in development of two planning approaches, which were initially considered to be completely separate but over time, become merged. While on the one hand, guidelines for sport facility development planning – BISp (Bundesinstitut für Sportwissenschaft or German Federal Institute for Sport Science) guidelines were developed, making it possible to determine the requirements for sports facilities based on the sporting behaviour of the population. Compared to the Golden Plan, no guide values were used but instead, the actual sporting behaviour of the population was taken as basis. On the other hand, cooperative planning was developed, a more qualitative system which gave the people a larger opportunity to become involved in making sport policy guidelines and concrete recommendations for sport development.

Since the turn of the century, cooperative sport development planning (also called integrated or problem-oriented sport development planning) solidly anchored in practical planning work. Not only due to the "memorandum on community sport development planning" issued collectively by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (Deutschen Olympischen Sportbund), the working group for German sports authorities in the Association of German Cities and Towns (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Sportämter im Deutschen Städtetag) and the German Society of Sport Science (Deutsche Vereinigung für Sportwissenschaft), which offers communities, sports clubs and sporting associations sport-scientific orientation support and formulates qualitative minimum requirements for the different areas of sport development planning.


Cooperative sport development planning

Based on the recommendations given in the memorandum on community sport development planning, it was intended that planning processes in community sport policy would include both quantitative and qualitative analyses of existing resources and requirements as well as calculated interpolation of the demand for sports facilities. This data was to be discussed with local experts in a cooperative approach resulting in the formulation of concrete targets and recommendations. This planning approach forms the basis for most of the community sport development processes in past years (see also fig. 1 which shows an example of community sport development planning).

A series of inventories such as, for example, an analysis of the number of members of sports clubs, population numbers including a growth forecast or numbers of schoolchildren, provide the groundwork. A more in-depth analysis of community sport promotion as well as the number of existing sports facilities is normally also required.

Further analysis of requirements can also be considered. Depending on the problem to be resolved and the size of a community various analyses can be considered such as an in-depth analysis of the requirements of sports clubs, schools and day care centres as well as other institutes (e.g. sports suppliers or other institutes which make use of community sports facilities). Not least, the general public can also be included directly in the planning process via a survey – generally in writing and increasingly, online via internet - and can supply valuable information to be considered in the sports development plan.

In a next step, a mathematical determination of demand for sports facilities can be calculated. Here also, several different methods can be used depending on the size of the community and the kind of problem to be solved. Use of the BISP guidelines is not compulsory; in smaller communities or from a point of view of social differentiation, other calculation methods can be used.


Citizen participation and networking approach

Definition of sport-political targets and concrete recommendations for action for sustainable development of sport and exercise must be carried out in a cooperative way. This means that the population or relevant local institutions must be included directly in the formulation of these targets and that recommendations and measures to achieve these targets are decided on together.

The heart of a cooperative planning process is formed by a local planning group made up of representatives from different functional groups. This results from the awareness that complex problems can only be solved through integration. Along with representatives from organised sport, fractions present in the ruling local authorities and expert representatives from public authorities, members of social groups and other institutes should also be included in the central planning group (e.g. schools, day care centres, youth workers, senior citizens representatives, migrant groups, people with handicaps, equal opportunities, adult education centres) (see fig. 2).

In a first step, the problems relevant to sport development as well as the wishes and demand from the point of view of the different functional groups are collected and prioritised according to their significance and importance. The basic topics are then systematically processed using the sources of know-how available (e.g. population forecasts, analysis of existing offers), and a general community concept drawn up. In this work phase the objective is above all to fill the collective sport-political targets with content and to find consensual solutions in cases of conflict. This approach is applied to sport and exercise localities as well as development of offers and types of organisation of sport and exercise so that for the final phase of the planning work a plan of measures to be taken exists which is adapted to suit the local conditions. Among others, this can cover topics such as questions of cooperation, formation of sports centres, sports clubs and day schools (future qualitative and qualitative) requirements for sports facilities and a new orientation of sports promotion at community level. Possible topics which can be included in sport development planning can be seen in fig. 3.

This concept ensures a rapid and uniform method with minimum time expenditure. As a rule, around five to six working meetings should be planned for definition of sport-political targets and recommendations. It is recommended that these meetings (and all work steps which are necessary beforehand) are accompanied by qualified experts from an external contractor. Only in this way can it be ensured that all inventory and requirement analyses are carried out according to valid stand of the art processes, that the whole planning process is carried out in a neutral and objective way and that experience from other cities and communities is included.


Sport development – at topic not just for (large) cities

We have seen from experience that the size of a community is of secondary importance with regard to the problem situation. Both large and small communities are faced with similar problem situations which differ above all in their complexity. This makes sport development planning just as suitable for smaller communities as well as medium-sized and large ones. Depending on the problem situation, this kind of sport development concept can uncover different aspects of the community sporting life. This means, being aware of the challenges which exist and which questions the sport development plan should find answers for, before starting the planning process.


Recommended literature (in German):

WETTERICH, J., 20104:
Kooperative Sportentwicklungsplanung. In: RÜTTEN, A., NAGEL, S. & KÄHLER, R. (Hrsg.): Handbuch Sportentwicklungsplanung, S. 119-127.

WETTERICH, J., 2012:
Kooperative Sportentwicklungsplanung - eine Bilanz der vergangenen Jahre. In: Kleine, T., Pfitzner, M. & Wulf, O. (Hrsg.): Soziale Wirklichkeiten des Sports. Richtlinien - Sportentwicklung - Sicherheitsförderung. Horst Hübner zum 60. Geburtstag, S. 57-68. Münster: Lit.

Kooperative Sportentwicklungsplanung - die Zukunft des kommunalen Sports planen, in: GUGGEMOS, P. / THIELEN, A. (Hrsg.): Bürgermeister Handbuch. Professionelles Kommunal-Management, Band 1, Augsburg, Abschnitt 4-2.6, S. 1 - 17




Photo: Dr. Stefan Eckl / ikps

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