Essay: Small, but connected and strong!

We asked, “Imagine that you are working in a sports organisation of the future (say 2040), what does it look like?”, and received numerous interesting essays from young people. You-De Chen took second place.

Read the essay from You-De Chen.

Small, but connected and strong!

Author: You-De Chen, second place

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining me on site and online for this talk at the European Youth Sport Platform 2040. My name is Adam and I am part of an organisation which focuses on supporting small sport clubs in Germany. Why small clubs? The size of clubs may be limited due to the population size of the village they are in, but sometimes also due to a lack of proper management and advertisement. Furthermore it is a vicious circle that the small size itself limits its growth and their voices being heard. We have the vision of helping small clubs prosper, so that they can continue bringing the benefits of sports to many people. Today, I am going to share with you what important roles sports play especially on young people and local communities, the challenges small clubs face and what we have been doing to giving them a hand in the past two decades.

In a more and more digitized and virtual world, sports undoubtedly stay as a vital mean of socialization for youths. Many people may not notice, but sports have a positive influence on our personal development and on building our soft skills, for example, self-discipline, strategic thinking, team work and sportsmanship, just to name a few. Also, they have taught us how to follow the rules and interact with other people. The real connection and interaction on sport fields are simply something the Internet can not replace.  


Small sport clubs often have difficulties finding qualified volunteers to train or even just to accompany the youths. We have been providing useful resources and toolkits to those interested so that they have a good start. Also, we campaign for efficient, non-bureaucratic and unified qualification programs to lower the entrance barrier and enhance the recognition of personals from other regions. Furthermore, we connect small clubs in the region so that they can organize fun sport events together for children and young adults. Of course, the participation of youths in organising and the connection they get from activities further assist their personal development. One single sport club may not have the capacity to achieve this, but through the wisdom and strength of many, they are able to implement many awesome ideas that foster the participation of youths in sports.

Sports connect people from all walks of life. We see the gradual demographic change in Europe towards an older and even more multicultural society. Sports provide a common place for all to meet, communicate and cooperate, regardless of their age, religion, ethnicity, gender, ability and socioeconomic background, thus strengthen the resilience and solidarity of local communities and combat loneliness and misunderstanding of the population.


We observe that there is a barrier for people to get in touch with those they do not know well and the situation of small clubs are usually more difficult. Thus we analyze demographic statistics to connect sport clubs with those less represented in them. We often ask ourselves: what hinders those potential members from joining the club? Then we try to find a solution together with all the stakeholders. Some concrete examples are: organising transportation service for the elderly, adjusting training time during fasting so that people are more likely to come, providing multilingual advertising materials, offering resources for better cultural understanding in the field of sports, and holding trial activities and training sessions specific to target groups in the region.

As we can see, sports not only provide people a physically healthy life, but sports also have their critical functions in character development of youths and in building a more connected society. However, apart from the societal change mentioned before, we also see the climate being abnormal and consumer price becoming souring high. What else should we do to make sure that small sport clubs can sustain? 


We believe the answer lies in connection and cooperation. Thus our work usually starts with connecting local small clubs, listening to their needs, and combining internal and external resources to solve the problems together with them. Let me give you some examples: we offer easy to use, cost-friendly, free and open source IT solutions together with training materials to clubs for their organisational work and online appearance so that they can stay connected and reach more people; we support European climate policies and help make neighborhood sport centers and club buildings energy-efficient; and we connect clubs to purchase green sport equipment and green products for their events at a cheaper price. 


Furthermore, on a broader scale, we join the international forces to push a paradigm shift in the sport industry and people’s way of thinking about sport. We campaign that sport industry be green from design, replacing toxic chemicals and take the full life cycle of products into account. Also, they should pay attention to the supply chain so that people from other parts of the world also prosper while we enjoy sport. There are thus more and more green and fair trade sport products on the market and the recycle and reuse chains of sport materials are also on the rise. As for big sport events, we see the trend of less disposable products, better logistic plannings, and more carbon compensation projects. Last but not least, we observe that people are more willing to adjust their sport activities according to time and season, instead of sticking on going to air-conditioned gym at noon or going to warm swimming pools in winter. 

To sum up, sports make it possible towards a healthy and happy personal life as well as an interconnected and strong local community. A proportion of the population are always out of reach of well organised and resourceful sport clubs, but in reach of those relatively small and separated ones. Introducing resources to small sport clubs and aiding them to connect with each other, we successfully kept them robust even in the face of all those societal, economical and environmental challenges in the past 20 years. We firmly believe that a connected network of small sport clubs would continue to thrive in the unknown future. Thank you.

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