Experts: All-day schools does not reduce members in sport clubs

Danish sports organizations are worried that the number of members in their clubs will decrease because of the implementation of all-day schools, but results and experts in Germany are clear – it will not. 

By Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen and Stefan Sigaard Weichert.

Pupils left their bags behind, before going to activity class. Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen

The bell is ringing. There is complete silence, before voices starts getting louder and louder – kids are coming into sight. It should be silence before the storm, but they look tired and exhausted from a long day. The clock says four pm. The school day is over and the pupils drag their bags after them on their way home. Everybody wants to lay down the rest of the day.

It is the complete nightmare for Danish sports organizations – if the Danish government is implementing the all-day schools. They fear for the member levels in sport clubs around the country, but they should not be worried. At least not if we look at results from Germany.

They implemented the all-day schools about ten years ago, so they today make 33 percent of all schools in Germany. The pupils normally go to school from eight am to four pm in the all-day schools, and a lot of that extra time is used on sports.

Fear of children fleeing from afternoon activities

DIF, Umbrella organization for sport – Denmark’s Olympic Committee, and DGI, Danish Gymnastics and Sports Associations, are two of the sport organizations, which have expressed their fear and concern towards the all-day schools and the longer school days.

But they do not need to fear for their members, explains Boris Rump, Officer for education in the German Olympic Sport Association.

“It was also a big fear in Germany, that pupils will stop practicing in sport clubs, but we have not seen that scenario. Pupils do not stop practicing in sport clubs, but the number of clubs are slowly decreasing,” says Boris Rump.

An example of the decrease in sport clubs can be seen in the German state Nordrhein-Westfalen, which have collected the number of sport clubs and members from 2000 and until now. It is the biggest state in Germany with 18 million inhabitants, and they have seen the number fall with 845 clubs (4.2 percent) during that period, even though the number of club members in the state are almost the same.

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Graph showing the number of members from year 2000 until 2012. Source: Member and club statistics in Nordrhein-Westphalen
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Graph showing a decrease in sport clubs from 2000 to 2013. Source: Member and club statistics in Nordrhein-Westphalen

Problem for small clubs

If the number of clubs are decreasing, but the number of members are almost the same – what is then happening?  Boris Rump explains the scenario in Germany.

“The small clubs are the ones closing. Pupils spend more time and do more sport in school, than before. This means that the sport clubs have to change their structure and adapt to the changing circumstances, as for example the greater pressure on facilities in the afternoon or at night, because of the longer school days,” says Boris Rump.

But that is not the only reason, why the small clubs are having problems, explains Christopher Heim, Head of the Department for sports science in Goethe Universität – Frankfurt Am Main

“The clubs have to change their strategy because of the all-day schools and get to the pupils where they are – in schools. In Germany we have seen the clubs do that after some years. They start working with schools, and this is where the big clubs have the advantage. It is a way to handle the changed situation and get more members,” says Christopher Heim.

The cooperation with schools means that the sport clubs are in charge of the physical education in schools in the afternoon instead of teachers. It is a way for the big clubs to push out the small clubs, explains Christopher Heim.

“The small clubs depend on volunteer work, and can therefore not send trainers to the schools during day time, where they are at work. Another things is that the schools might not be interested in the small clubs as they do not have such a broad perspective with many different sports as the big clubs. The consequence is that we see the big clubs dominating the sport picture and pushing the small clubs out,” Christopher Heim explains.

HT16 gained 1.000 extra members

One of the clubs, which has benefited from the all-day school is HT16 from Hamburg. They started working with schools four years ago and are now cooperating with 20 schools. The club has 5.000 members and a long list of sports for example dancing, football, judo, swimming, and handball.

At the HT16 sports club, there are several activities to choose from. Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen

Hear Oliver Camp, head of department and trainer at HT16, explain the benefits working with the schools.


HT16’s coaches in the schools are mostly undergraduate students from the universities. The club received 100.000 euro in financial support during the first years to change the setup and get started. A support which is not normal to get for sport clubs in Germany, but they received it because of their location in the poor area of Hamburg.

“It has helped us change the structure in the club, and I am not sure that we could have done it without financial support. So I can just imagine how hard it must be for smaller clubs, which do not even have the setup like we did before.” says Oliver Camp and continues.

“It is still an ongoing struggle for us. The tasks have just changed. As it is now about finding the coaches, who can practice during school hours, and furthermore just to work things out with schools is a big job, which require people on the payroll.”

HT16 get money from the schools for managing the lessons in the afternoon, besides the extra membership fees from new members in the club. The normal way to do it, explains Boris Rump.

“It is a good way for the schools to save money on teachers, because they are more expensive than an employed coach, who earns about 10-15 euro per hour (A normal teacher in Germany earns about 22 euro an hour).”

Back in school the bell is ringing. There is complete silence, before voices start getting louder and louder – kids are coming into sight. They look tired from a long day in school from eight am to four pm, but their day is not finished – some of them are going to sports clubs to finish their day off. As they get on their bikes, a man comes out of the school.

A coach from the nearby sports club – ready to continue his day coaching some of the same kids, but this time in the club.

Read more: The elite clubs benefits from all-day schools 

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