Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity

Last update: 28 November 2023
On this page
  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people
  3. Physical education in schools
  4. Collaboration and partnerships

As presented in UNICEF analysis and based on  the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Ministry of Youth and Sports research,  about one half of young people regularly engage in sports activities where boys are more engaged in sports than girls. Research also showed that adolescents of lower socio-economic status engage in sports less often than their peers from the families with higher socio-economic status. Regional disparities between young people engaging in recreational sports are also evident, with fewer youth engaged in recreational sports in South and Eastern Serbia, and Šumadija and Western Serbia. Another observation is that the rate of young people engaged in sports declines with age. The physical activity index for children up to 14 years is 30 per cent and of young people aged 15-30 years is 12.2 per cent.

National strategy(ies)

There is no current sports national strategy. Its development for the period from 2020 to 2030 and the Action Plan for its implementation is being discussed (see 7.8 Current debates and reforms).

National Youth Strategy for the period 2015-2025 emphasise the importance of youth participation in sport activities especially through the strategic goal improved health and well-being of young women and men. Specific tasks within this goal related to sport are:

  • improve and develop the system of school competitions and the introduction of a variety of sports disciplines and stimulate the inclusion of all young people, with special reference to young women;
  • support the activities of introducing physical education classes in the curricula of higher education institutions.

Evaluation of the level of realization is presented in Chapter 7.4 Healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition/ National strategy(ies). More details on National Youth Strategy is provided in Chapter 1.3 National youth strategy.

The Law on Sports is the main top-level authority regulation in the field of sports and it is in act as of 2016. This law regulates:

  • the rights and obligations of athletes and other natural persons in the sports system,
  • issues related to the legal status,
  • organization and registration of entrepreneurs and legal entities in the sports system,
  • general interest as well as needs and interests of citizens in the field of sports,
  • financing,
  • categorizations in the field of sports,
  • school and university sports and physical education,
  • sports facilities,
  • organization of sports events,
  • national recognitions and awards for special contribution to sports development and affirmation and
  • supervision over the work of organizations in the field of sports.

Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people

The Fund for Young Talents  under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Youth and Sport awards secondary school students for their achievements in recognized competitions in the country and abroad in physical education and sport. The calendar of the competitions is published for each school year and cover competitions in school, municipal, regional and republic level. The call is opened annually by the ministry of Youth and Sport and the right to the prize have secondary school pupils who have won one of the first three prizes / places in national or internationally recognized physical education or sport competitions.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports regularly announces public calls for the submission of proposals for different programmes and projects in the field of sports. A call for a special programme proposals with a defined programme task: "Increased number of sports and recreational activities for young people" in 2020 intends to increase the offer of sports content through the inclusion of young people in free sports and recreational activities.

  • the holder of the programme should design programme activities that will enable young people to engage in free sports and recreational activities in at least five cities in the Republic of Serbia, in sports facilities in public ownership;
  • programme activities should include women and people with disabilities;
  • programme activities must be implemented in open and closed sports facilities in public ownership;
  • programme activities must be organized in at least 15 sports.

Programme activities are determined by the Programme Structure of the Republic Budget for 2020.

In addition, the Ministry of Youth and Sports finances and co-finances youth programmes and projects of public interest through public call.  In addition to supporting the implementation of youth volunteer projects and volunteer camps within the Programme Youth Rules (Mladi su zakon) (see more on 2.4 Youth volunteering at national level) these public calls support programs and projects aimed at implementing the objectives of the National Youth Strategy.

In this regard, it is possible to propose:

  • innovative programmes or projects;
  • programmes or projects that represent the continuation of initiated activities from previous programmes or projects;
  • programmes or projects modelled on those previously implemented that have given good results.

These proposals must contribute to the achievement strategic goals referring to health and well-being of young people. Funds for programmes and projects are provided in the budget of the Republic of Serbia, based on the Law on the Budget of the Republic of Serbia.

Physical education in schools

Physical and health education is a mandatory subject in general upper secondary schools, however schools provide curricular and extracurricular sport activities.

Recommended compulsory instruction time of physical and health education in gymnasiums is two school hours per week and for four years it is in total of 288 school hours. School hour in Serbia is 45 minutes long. Main thematic areas covered are:

  • physical abilities;
  • motor skills, sports and sports disciplines;
  • physical and health culture.

Choice of sport is given to children; so, based on their abilities and interests, pupils opt for a sport in which they train, improve and develop their creativity throughout the school year. These can be suggested sport branches and other sports for which students show interest. At the beginning of each school year, the teachers' council, at the proposal of the professional council of physical education teachers, determines the sports that the students of that school can choose. Each school is required to provide spatial and other conditions for the realization of at least four sports. Schools can organise some the sports below:

  • Handball
  • Futsal
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Swimming
  • Skating and skiing
  • Table tennis

In accordance with its capabilities and conditions, the school may offer:

  • Orienteering;
  • Rowing;
  • Mountain climbing;
  • Martial arts;
  • Badmington;
  • Aerobics;
  • Fitness;
  • other activities in accordance with spatial possibilities schools and local communities.

Thematic area physical and health culture is realized through two topics Physical Education and Health Culture. The main goal of Physical Education is beside encouraging pupils to exercise independently, to explain them the safety rules and principles of exercise and the basic ways of working on the development of motor and functional abilities as well as the preventive effect that physical exercise has on health.

Sports and health is offered as an optional curricular programme to the pupils of the first and the second gradeof the upper secondary schools. The goal is for the pupils, based on the study of various aspects of healthy living, to develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that are in the function of preserving and improving the health and culture of physical exercise. Main topics covered are:

  • sport and psychoactive substances;
  • physical activity and reproductive health;
  • proper nutrition and physical exercise in sports and recreation.

And finally, schools can organize sports and recreational activities as optional extracurricular activities in duration of 30-60 school hours per year to include those sports, recreational activities and disciplines that compulsory physical and health education classes cannot include. The aim is:

  • coverage of as many pupils as possible with a special physical exercise programme, which together with the general, compulsory programme, forms a unique system of school physical education;
  • satisfaction of new and increasingly diverse desires and interests of school youth to engage in various branches of physical exercise in their free time;
  • discovering the possibilities of development and creativity in physical culture, sports, gymnastics, games, dance and helping students to comprehensively develop their natural abilities for different types of physical activities;
  • Encouraging students to learn how to integrate physical exercise into their daily lives and to develop activity in this area as their permanent need and obligation.

The work consists of:

  • sports and recreational activities of informal groups for which the group independently decides (all sports games, table tennis, archery, swimming, etc.);
  • trainings and competitions in sports for which pupils independently decide to participate on the basis of desires and predispositions (athletics, exercises, handball, football, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, swimming, etc.);
  • entertaining competitions and contests, excursions and other activities for entertainment and leisure; special courses for basic introduction to some branches of physical exercise and sports disciplines, which pupils have not met before or want to deepen their knowledge (wrestling, karate, judo, skating, chess, etc.).

In addition, the school organizes and conducts sports competitions, school sports week as a unique part of the process of teaching physical and health education.

Physical education in vocational secondary schools includes, besides Physical education realized according to the pupils' choice, Sports technical education programme (athletics, exercises on the equipment and the ground). Vocational secondary schools also organise optional extracurricular activities.

Didactic-methodical guidance for teaching and learning is provided to teachers responsible for physical and health education within the Bylaw on the gymnasium curriculum and the Bylaw on the curriculum for common subjects in vocational and art schools.

Programmes of continuous professional development are offered to the physical education teachers through the Catalogue of accredited programmes by Institute for Improvement of Education.

Collaboration and partnerships

National Youth Strategy supports the development of the extracurricular activities by cooperating with scientific, cultural, sports, technical-technological and other institutions that provide development opportunities to young people.

The Law on Sports allows that if a school, i.e. a higher education institution does not have the conditions for organizing an independent sports section, it can be realized through school cooperation with an organization in the field of sports.

The Law also envisages joining of sports clubs and organizations into associations and federations.

The Sports Federation of Serbia is a territorial sports federation for the Republic of Serbia, which includes the competent national branch sports federations, competent national sports federations for sports, national professional and other sports associations, as well as territorial sports federations for the autonomous province, local self-government units and city municipalities.

The Sports Federation of Serbia performs activities that provide conditions for monitoring, development and improvement of sports recreation, children's sports, including physical education of preschool children and school sports, university sports, sports in diaspora and top sports in non-Olympic sports.

Serbian School Sports Federation is a voluntary, non-governmental, non-political and non-profit association of associated organizations in the field of school sports. The Federation brings together: primary and secondary schools, municipal associations for school sports, associations of physical education teachers and other interested organizations in the field of school sports.

The Federation obtains financial resources to achieve its goals from:

  • registration fees;
  • membership fees;
  • income from its own activities;
  • sponsorships;
  • donations;
  • public revenues;
  • economic and other activities;
  • revenues of companies, institutions, agencies and other organizations for which the Federation is the founder or co-founder;
  • other sources, in accordance with the law.