The “Network Sports” initiative – more exercises for children

High-rise buildings up to 25 floors: Gropiusstadt in Berlin, which will turn 60 years old in November, is integrated into the greenery. In 1962 the cornerstone was laid by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and former Mayor and Governor Willie Brant.

Cooperation with nurseries and schools

About 37,000 people live there, about 38 percent of immigrant backgrounds. Similar to the Marzahn metropolitan area, Prenzlauer Berg and Wedding, Alba Berlin, German basketball champion and initiator of “sports networks”, has also been active in the southern suburbs for a long time with his idea: the children’s sports club comes up in day care centers and schools.

Philip Hecktheer, Head of Sports and Education: “Specifically, we work with eight daycare centers and ten schools, and we offer additional sports and exercise programs at daycares and schools.”

48 percent of children in Grobisstadt live in poverty. Daily movement is a foreign concept to many girls and boys. For many years, there were only a few cultural and sporting activities in places where most social housing is located. There are now a few of them. District Director Salma Tuzlali stated:

“We have a so-called Gropius mile. This is a fitness mile that runs over many kilometers and also has a place where many fitness machines cluster together so that people can also exercise in groups, but unfortunately not many people take advantage of these offerings.

Not just a charitable approach

The negative image that outsiders had of Grobisstadt in the 1990s has changed in recent years thanks to Alba’s commitment, explains Philip Hecktheer. And also:

“We now have 150 partner schools in Berlin and 50 partner day care centers in our programme, and of this total of 200 educational institutions, 75 percent tend to be in socially disadvantaged areas.”

With all the social commitment, the association is also honest and doesn’t just take a charitable approach:

“Of course we want a great basketball player to appear at some point, because on the other hand we also find this identity for such a room, if you can say that the boy or girl who plays there in the Bundesliga comes from Grobisstadt.”

14 locations nationwide

Change of location: Sports Networks has been invited to a panel discussion at the Institute for Sport Science at Humboldt University Berlin. Alba Project Manager Hendrik Brussel is also present:

“The fact that one consciously goes to polluted areas where it is not easy for children to play sports, and that the work we do here can be carried across Germany – we are now bringing this up with the Foundation. The Auridis Foundation and the Beisheim Foundation support us too.”

There are currently 14 locations nationwide. In the meantime, ‘Network Sports’ has been around for a good year. In addition to Alba, there is also Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga and several amateur clubs.

Professionals should help amateurs

Igor Ryabinin, Head of Social Affairs and Sustainability at Alba, helped develop the concept. He adds: “Although we have already noted that professional clubs, who are more organized in the head office, find it easier to implement our approach. Whereas the clubs, which are more popular sports, need more time to grow in them. But this also works.”

For example, in the multi-species club Aeltere Casseler Turngemeinde von 1848. 60 to 70 percent of the members are active in basketball. Cedric Toth, Senior President says:

In the meantime, we are using two social rooms in the Kassel area. We have a total of more than 30 or 40 partnerships with primary and secondary schools and day care centers. We can only do this with the help of a lot of representatives in our city. That means we show up at family network meetings, at area workgroups, and get to know the actors there.”

Sports Networking considers itself an initiative in which professionals assist amateurs if they wish. However, the initiative does not focus exclusively on sports clubs. Universities, schools, city sports federations and local administrations such as Gropiusstadt in Berlin can also participate. Everyone who wants to participate is warmly invited.

Encourage him to exercise for life

Igor Ryabinin, Head of Social Affairs and Sustainability at Alba Berlin explains: “What we are looking for is a big idea, a new sporting idea for Germany, and it is about: How do sports start? How do children become athletes?”

Sports Networks takes the approach of laying the foundation for lifelong sports activity in childhood. The initiative does not want to compete with social organizations that use sports in their work, but rather wants to coordinate with them.

If everyone together recognize and enhance the potential of this project, only society as a whole can benefit from it.

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