7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity
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Around 250 clubs form the basis of sport East Belgium. The sports played in the clubs are very varied. The clubs are organised at municipality level in the form of sports councils, sports federations or sports communities or can join one of the 16 recognised associations devoted to a specific sport.
There is no national strategy specifically targeting youth fitness and physical activity. In the current main youth policy document, the Strategic Plan on Youth 2016-2022 (Jugendstrategieplan 2016-2022), fitness and physical activity are consequently not explicitly tackled.
The main policy document for the development of the whole German-speaking Community is the Regional Development Concept (Regionales Entwicklungskonzept, REK). Currently, the Regional Development Concept is in its third implementation phase (REK III), which corresponds to the legislative period 2019-2024. The REK III does contain a project called “Strengthening sport structures” (Sportstrukturen stärken), which is however not specifically targeted at young people. This project basically aimed at creating a single umbrella organisation instead of various institutions. As of 01 September 2020, the Leading Association of the East Belgian Sport (Leitverband des ostbelgischen Sports, LOS) has been recognised as said umbrella organisation by the Edict of the Government of 03 September 2020 on the Recognition of the Leading Association of the East Belgian Sport as Umbrella Organisation for Sport in the German-speaking Community (Erlass der Regierung vom 03. September 2020 zur Anerkennung der VoG “Leitverband des Ostbelgischen Sports” als Dachverband für den Sport in der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft). The legal basis for the existence of a sport umbrella organisation is article 8 of the Sport Decree of 19 April 2004 (Sportdekret vom 19. April 2004), which also promotes a range of recognised sport organisations such as local sport councils and sport associations and provides for special grants for the maintenance of the intra-community and international contacts of the sport clubs and sport associations, for the organisation of sports holiday camps, open air classes and competitive training centres and likewise supports projects in top-level, grass roots and school sport. Currently, the Leading Association of the East Belgian Sport is in the process of taking over the responsibilities of the Department for Sport of the Ministry. This process is intended to be finished by 30 June 2022. As of then, it is planned for the Leading Association to be planning and implementing also projects in the area of health and societal added value via sport.
Additionally, the Government passes on a perennial basis edicts to determine the focal points on health promotion. In the current edict, the Edict of the Government of 23 January 2020 on the Determination of the Focal Points on Health Promotion for 2020 until 2024 (Erlass der Regierung vom 23. Januar 2020 zur Festlegung der inhaltlichen Schwerpunkte in der Gesundheitsförderung für die Jahre 2020 bis 2024), Art. 2.3 states:
in the area of physical activity:
a) Promote target group-specific physical activity in everyday life in accordance with the recommendations of the
World Health Organization in the population;
b) Promoting physical activity for the prevention of chronic diseases, especially musculoskeletal and
Four competitive centres in various sports (tennis, apparatus gymnastics for boys and girls as well as acrobatics, sport for the disabled and chess) introduce children, young people and adults to competitive sport in East Belgium. The reform of the competitive training centres in 2005 and 2006 has enabled some young sport talent trained in the centres of East Belgium to risk the next step and sign up to the sport schools that exist both in Flanders and in the French Community and are geared towards competitive sport. These four centers have been disbanded at the end of 2021, a replacement in the form of a support center is in the process of being established.
Sport for people with a disability is particularly promoted in twelve specially recognised sports clubs.
In 2004, the project “young sports talents” was launched. The project, which was eventually renamed Be Gold, aims to finance specific promotion projects and measures in the area of the development, progression and support of young sports talent in the medium and long term and to do it with respect to a top 8 placement at the Olympic Games. This project is based on the cooperation between the federal state of Belgium, the Flemish Community, the French Community, the German-speaking Community and the BOIK (Belgium Olympic Committee) and was renewed by a Convention signed between said parties on 21 April 2015, starting 1 January 2015 and ending 31 December 2017, which was automatically extended from 1 Januar 2018 until 31 December 2022.
The quality assurance of the trainers and training supervisors in the clubs is important for the promotion of sport as well. For this purpose the Ministry of the German-speaking Community draws up an annual training and development programme together with the recognised sports associations and the clubs. As of 2021, the responsibility of organising these trainings has been taken over by the Leading Association of the East Belgian Sport as well.
Campaigns for the promotion of grassroots sport as well as the The DG is getting FIT, me too! campaign (Die DG wird FIT, ich mache MIT!) which has been conducted for some years or by the European Week of Sport first proclaimed by the European Union in 2015, encourage the active participation of as many citizens as possible in movement activities and round off the initiatives of the German-speaking Community. The European Week of Sport is regularly taking place in the German-speaking Community. This is intended to propagate sport and physical activity at all levels. Other promotion initiatives include the sports gala, OXFAM Trailwalker and the swimming marathon, all of which take place annually.
The Programme Decree of 24 February 2014 (Programmdekret vom 24.02.2014) has set out new regulations from scratch for the promotion of top-level sport in the Sport Decree. Like the other communities of the country, from 2014 the German-speaking Community has introduced a three-level system for supporting top-level sport. It is planned that sportsmen and women will be given the opportunity to be classified into an A, B or C squad status. Children and young people who have already reached a high sporting level in their sport, are performance-focused and have been identified as talents by the respective sports associations fall into the category of the C squad. In the area of the B squad athletes are young people and adults who have already reached a high national and international level in the sport discipline and can demonstrate a significant prospect of increasing their performance. In the highest category are the A squad athletes. In this category are classified young people and adults who, because of the performance they have already achieved in a sport, have the prospect of participating and a promising placement in European championships, world championships, Olympic Games or Paralympics. While at the C squad athletes level the emphasis is primarily on improving the training conditions (including possibilities of release from school), the athletes classified into the B squad or A squad may also have benefit of individual funding. The classification of the sportsmen and women is carried out on the basis of criteria agreed with the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee and the French community. Over and above that, the German-speaking Community contributes annually to the accommodation and catering costs of squad athletes who are registered at recognised competitive training centres.
In the area of team sports a revision of the applicable legislation has likewise been carried out. Sports clubs that have at least one team in the highest playing class, conduct active youth work and whose sports association does not have a training centre, can benefit from additional funding. Here the funding of the clubs is geared to the number of youth teams and the qualification of the trainers employed in the club's youth teams and teams in the highest playing class over a period of ten months.
Subsidies for participation in or toward the organisation of international championships are distributed over around 50 initiatives annually. Primarily sportsmen and women and teams that have qualified at national level for international tasks are considered.
Annually around 35 training camps are organised domestically and abroad by sports clubs for their members.
In total 21,433 East Belgians as of 2020 have joined a sports club in their nine municipalities, of which 8,528 are under 18.
Alongside the compulsory 2 hours of sport each week, which has to comply with the specifications of the framework plans (Rahmenpläne), the Fit School project, which was initiated in 2016, aims to bring more movement, sport and games into the schools of the German-speaking Community. School is the only place where enthusiasm for movement can be aroused in all children. This is the starting point of the project. The participating schools build a range of movement activities into every school day – before, during, between and after lessons. Plus they design the school playground and surrounding playing areas together with the pupils to make them more movement friendly.
If a school carries out 12 activities in the school year, it receives the Fit School award, for 17 activities it is even designated Top Fit School.
After the successful completion of a pilot phase last year, this school year 12 primary schools have registered to take part.
The project was officially launched as part of the European Week of Sport - i.e. at the start of the school year 2016-2017.
There is no specific policy or legal framework for partnerships between formal education providers, youth workers, health professionals and sporting organisations.