Zeeland ready for a future-proof association life

What sports needs do residents in Zeeland have and how can sports associations get started with this? To gain insight into this, NOC*NSF, the Province of Zeeland and Rabobank conducted a sports participation survey in Zeeland. The results were presented to club directors and municipalities in Zeeland during the Inspiration Meeting ‘Sports Club of the Future’. Based on the data obtained, Zeeland policymakers and sports associations can create a modern and future-proof sports policy and offer. All this based on the idea that we can make Zeeland even stronger and more beautiful through the power of sport.

The corona crisis, rising energy prices and a changing society. All this also affects the rich associational life in the Netherlands. In addition, in many regions in the Netherlands, the composition of the population and the needs of athletes and non-athletes are changing. This makes it relevant for associations in these regions to reflect on their sports policy and sports offer. The aim is to get and keep as many residents as possible moving. Zeeland is one of those regions. A province with a rich associational life, but at the same time many associations that are struggling with declining membership numbers.

Sports participation survey
The Zeeland sports participation survey has provided insight into the wishes and needs of residents regarding their local sports landscape. In other words, the offer of sport in the area, the motivation of residents to play sport, the obstacles to sport and what the specific sport needs are.

Data specialists, marketing experts and advisors from NOC*NSF translate the insights from the research into practice. Jorn Knops, data specialist at NOC*NSF explains the research. ‘What is striking is that most of the sports are done by young people in Zeeland. 60% of young people between the ages of 5 and 18 participate in sport every week, while 54% of 45-80 year-olds do so. In addition, young people are much more likely to participate in sports at a sports club and older people are more likely to do so in a disorganized manner. Football remains the most popular sport among young people in Zeeland. But from the age of 19, the hiking and fitness sport is most practiced.

Opportunities for clubs
So where are the opportunities for clubs to get non-athletes to play sports? Research has been carried out into the motivations and barriers of people to participate in sports or not. In all ages, the motivation ‘exercise is part of my routine’ emerges most strongly as a predictor of long-lasting and resistant sports behaviour. A motive that is of course somewhat contradictory in today’s society, where flexibility plays an increasingly important role. However, it offers important tools for policy makers and sports clubs to formulate their policy accordingly. The thresholds with the most impact on sports behavior differ between the different age categories. While a socially unsafe sports environment is the greatest barrier for young people, this is ‘too little time’ for the 19-44 age group and these become ‘health problems’ for the 45-80 age group.

It has been discussed with policymakers how to deal with these opportunities and challenges in order to get more people into sports and exercise. Fortunately, all target groups experience that sports contribute to physical and mental fitness’.

How can sports associations get started?
The insights from the Zeeuws sports participation survey are also of added value for the directors of sports clubs. They can use the data to form an appropriate vision about how they organize their club now and in the future. “Using the data from the research, we can help sports clubs together with sports associations and municipalities to develop very targeted policies on themes such as membership recruitment, sports offerings, accommodation and collaboration with other sports providers or organizations,” says Patrick Vader, manager of SportZeeland. “In addition, Rabobank, together with NOC*NSF, is organizing the masterclass ‘Sports club of the future’ for associations that want to get started.”

On May 18, Rabobank, NOC*NSF and SportZeeland are organizing the Inspiration Meeting ‘Sports Club of the Future’ in Terneuzen. You can register via rabo.nl/p/inspiratieavond-zeeland.

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