Can community sports clubs really deliver the required growth?

I have just returned from the Danish Sports Federation’s congress which focused on the ‘Future of the Sports Club’. With 500 delegates primarily from local authorities, sports governing bodies and major community sports clubs there was a lively and frank debate, which I can imagine that some of the ‘stalwarts’ most have found a little uncomfortable. Terms like ‘innovation’ and ‘commercial’ are not normal bedfellows of the volunteer-based community sports club.

The background is that in Denmark the number of people playing sport in the traditional sports club is, at best, stagnating. However, the number of people enjoying sport and physical activity in commercial facilities and through self-organised sport is rising. Even big Danish traditional sports like badminton and handball where the national teams have been performing really well internationally (the Danish men just came second in the World Cup) are seeing declining participation, whereas skateboarding is seeing growth.

In a country where the local community club or community group has traditionally been a real hub for the communities some of these are facing challenges as responding to the changes in social structures, working patterns, lifestyle choices and the meteoric rise in the use of social media…and this event certainly addressed those issues.

All praise must go to the organisers for a putting forward some challenging presentations and topics and not too many politicians and dignitaries reciting policies…really refreshing.

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