Developing young talent in sports – performance at all levels

SCC Juniors Volleyball Offspring. (Deutschlandradio / Wolf-Sören Treusch)

For years Sportstiftung NRW has mainly focused on supporting coaches in their work. For several years, the Foundation has also been promoting athletes, especially young talents. In 2021, the foundation has supported young athletes with nearly three million euros. How that money is distributed is now changing.

“Why should you be supported now?”

From 2023, it will not be limited to just the sporty aspects. According to the new funding guidelines, it’s also about “personality athletes” and “mature” athletes. In addition to the best of times, voluntary and social commitment is also important, Max Hartung, Managing Director of NRW Sports, explains: “We support athletes who are not yet at the top. And then you have to choose and we want to expand it now and address the athletes very directly and say: why should That you get support now? What do you do, what do you respond? And we want to ask this question. I think this is a good addition to the existing selection mechanisms.”

Athletic performance should continue to be a focus of support in the future, says Hartung. Contrary to the above, the personality of the athletes should not be evaluated solely by the coaches who recommend the institution to the athletes. In the future, the Foundation will rely on applicants presenting themselves: “The selection process will consist of assessing what an athlete looks like. We will seek assistance from the responsible professional associations. But this is part and then a personality questionnaire, a cover letter and a video from the athletes, and then that is recorded here by the evaluators. , with the first part, performance and sporting perspective, being the most weighty part.

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Colin Kaepernick or Megan Rapinoe as role models

But not only. Even if the applicants are, for example, offering coaching to children or promoting their sport, that is now included. Hartung is convinced that athletes can do more than just achieve their best athletic performance. They can stimulate social discussions and organize campaigns for a good cause: “As is often the case, it started in the USA, where athletes were very much involved in social and political affairs, if you think of Colin Kaepernick or Megan Rapinoe. We say, ‘These Great role models, also for young people here in North Rhine-Westphalia and there are also athletes like these in Germany. “And we want to send a message that we appreciate that.”

Hartung was Managing Director of Sports Foundation NRW for a year. Prior to that, the fencer was a founding member and president of Athletes Germany, the representation of independent athletes in German sport. An experience that showed him how important it is for athletes to participate in society. For example, when hockey player Nike Laurens wore a rainbow armband at the Olympics, or Sarah Voss performed gymnastics in a bodysuit: “Of course, those are stories that touched me personally and I also think that’s it. And young athletes that they can also help shape the sport around them and indirectly, of course, yes, the people around them and society as a whole.”

Responsible athletes are becoming more and more present in Europe

The self-organization of athletes, not only in Germany, is becoming increasingly important: “In other countries, such organizations have existed for a long time, but at the moment they are not as influential as the athletes in Germany,” says Maximilian Seltmann. A scientist from the German Sport University in Cologne is looking at employment relationships in top-tier sport with an international team of researchers: “What you can definitely see is that athletes, perhaps transnationally, tend to organize themselves, exchange ideas, talk about different things that affect their their careers, to network and perhaps have a voice together.”

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Compared to other countries, where funding is provided through National Olympic Committees, Germany’s funding system with its many institutions and programs for athletes in the Bundeswehr, customs and police is very differentiated: “Of course, this provides flexibility for athletes. So I have several options. However, in some Sometimes it’s really hard to navigate.”

In other federal states, says Max Hartung, personality development does not play such a prominent role in sports financing. He does not yet want to predict whether the work of the NRW Sports Foundation can be planned for them. After all, the concept of new financing is also a new area for our enterprise.

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