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Community sports planning – how many sports fields are enough?
Almost all sporLangtextts authorities have the aim of achieving a the most varied and widely positioned range of sports facilities of highest possible quality in their own community. This naturally, in accord with the means at hand, existing sports clubs and the area available. But the growing number of sports and sporting trends does not make this planning any easier and the demands of the various clubs are a further additional factor. But after all planning possible, the thing even worse than a lack of sports facilities is those which are not made use of.
A sports hall for school sport, a gymnastics club as well as basketball, volleyball or handball and a football pitch can be found in practically every community. The clubs making use of these facilities are usually long-lasting and well-founded local institutions and often have a major vote, which is why their demands are most commonly heard by politicians and administrators. Arguments about times when sports facilities can be used or about necessary renovation, modernisation and new construction will still occur everywhere and the question arises, of what is meaningful and what should take priority. In addition, unorganised sport should also be taken into account which, when considered at all, does not have a loud voice or a strong lobby.
In earlier times, the so-called "Golden Plan" contained exact formulae which could be used to help determine the sporting requirements of the communities in each case. For many years now however, efficient sports development planning has been carried out more accurately and in a differentiated way. Above all the model of cooperative sport development planning is oriented towards the actual interests of the local population and athletes and drafts a sports infrastructure model based on these. This is a very helpful instrument, but it naturally also binds resources and can often result in unpopular results; although these are part and parcel of development of a functioning sporting infrastructure. A frequent example is the mutual use of a football pitch by two or even more clubs. If the individual clubs were able to have sole use of sports facilities, criticism of the idea is sure to be made loud and clear. Artificial turf pitches in particular, however, offer a capacity of playing hours which makes mutual use possible. This kind of measure, however, should not result in a significant limitation of training times and, on the other hand, should allow creation of sports facilities for other kinds of sport with the savings achieved in this way. In many major towns and cities, mutual use of a football pitch by two or more clubs is an established practice.
To make good conditions possible for a variety of kinds of sport in one place, it is recommended to increase attention to multi-use sports facilities. In contrast to single-use facilities, a wider range of sport players can carry out their sporting activities in such a facility. One version already in use for decades is the combination of field and track facilities with a football pitch, but there are many variations and possibilities for a combination of different kinds of sport which are meaningful due to the possibility of using the same infrastructure in one place (changing rooms, toilets, showers, parking spaces, etc.). For many new sports and sporting trends, simple facilities allowing flexible use are sufficient and often serve to supplement local leisure time activities, such as green areas, sand or asphalt surfaces.
Efficient and successful planning is hardly possible without communication with the population, in particular with clubs and active athletes. It is important that not just the loudest voices are heard, but that the most commonly mentioned requirements are also taken into consideration and that a cost-benefit analysis is always made. It will never be possible to make everyone completely happy, but planned on a wider basis, any criticism on the sport planning can be kept within limits. From the point of view of players, there will never be enough playing fields in any community, but with well thought-out planning and inclusion of active clubs and players, a sensible compromise can be found making a versatile local sporting infrastructure possible.
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