February 2, 2024
As part of a program backed by the German government, sports clubs have been given new life so that more Germans can join. After a slow return from the pandemic, the initiative was part of "Sports Moves Germany" (Sport bewegt Deutschland), a campaign to improve German people’s mental and physical health through participation in sport. The “ReStart Program” aims to lead the way with a set of initiatives that will bring communities together across the country.
Developed in 2022, the ReStart program and its complementary exercise campaign “Your Club: Sport, Simply Better” was created in collaboration with the German Olympic Committee (DOSB) and the Federal Ministry of Interior and Homeland to stimulate social and financial recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal was re-engage people in physical activity, build interest in club sports, develop more and increase training for coaches and referees.
Aid was distributed through a voucher system called the "Free (Return) to the Club - Sports Club Voucher." For a limited time, citizens received free membership to a club of their choice and, in turn, the club was reimbursed €40 for each voucher. The incentive increased the enrollment of athletes and nonathletes to clubs affected by the pandemic, which was essential to their recovery.
"I am impressed by the number of people we have reached in such a short time with the ReStart program in cooperation with the DOSB,” shared Minister of the Interior and Sport Nancy Faeser. “We have managed to get a lot of people involved in sports. All 150,000 vouchers for free club memberships [were] used, which is a great success. In this way, we were able to give society a strong boost in difficult times. Sport is not only fun, it also promotes a healthy lifestyle. Sport, especially in clubs, helps to keep our society together.”
Efforts were also taken to improve visibility and ease access to club sports in Germany through the creation of an online "movement map" (BeLa), which currently highlights nearly 75,000 events. Additionally, creating more open places and public green areas for the public was a goal. 50 “sports boxes “with equipment and games were installed throughout the country in collaboration with individual clubs.
Altogether, clubs and groups have had about 500,000 players and more than 30,000 new members. "What we have achieved with ReStart, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior, is of great value for an active and healthy society. It's fantastic to see how individuals, clubs, and associations have embraced each of the activities,” stated DOSB President Thomas Weikert. “We can and must build on this success in the future."
Source: Inside the Games