Vienna, Austria. The Austrian authorities recently announced an extension of the lockdown measures introduced to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. This means that the global health crisis and the related challenges are likely to persist for a few more weeks and months. In response to that, the National Federations representing as many as 11 team sports (American football, baseball, basketball, fistball, handball, hockey, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, volleyball and water polo) have announced that they will strengthen their cooperation to work together for professional solutions and realistic perspectives for their clubs and members.
A slow and phased resumption of training sessions coupled with the opening of schools under the necessary safety requirements is a central requirement for sport in order not to cause a total stop to the activities involving especially the youth and amateurs. The aim of this action is to counteract the alarmingly declining number of members and to prevent losing entire age groups among children and other young people.
Therefore, the 11 National Federations, including the Austrian Volleyball Federation (ÖVV), have initiated a dialogue with the ministries on the resumption of a training programme for team sports that is adapted to the situation – along with the re-opening of schools.
Children, young people and their parents are increasingly turning away from sport. If you remained loyal to your club / sport in the past year, there is currently a sharp decline in the number of members. Some associations already count around a third less, especially children and members of the youth divisions.
“Sport has already proven that it deals with the situation and the associated responsibility carefully and professionally. As early as spring 2020, detailed prevention concepts were worked out that defined the group size during training, took into account social distancing, strictly regulated the use of the cloakrooms and the access to sports facilities as well. In addition, the associations are not aware of any clusters resulting directly from sports activities. Not least because of this, skiing and ice skating are still allowed,” said Michael Eschlböck, President of the Austrian American Football Federation.
“We all have great understanding for the renewed and tightened measures and have always supported them one hundred percent since spring 2020. We do that now too but team sports now need a real perspective that we can offer to our clubs and members. Otherwise there will inevitably a long-term collateral damage,” adds Dr Leo Windtner, President of the Austrian Football Federation. “I can only take my hat off to all active people and volunteers in Austria who have made it possible for the amateur clubs to get through this difficult time. I am convinced that we will overcome this crisis together but now we need a perspective.”
Sport plays an essential role in promoting a healthy lifestyle and in injury prevention. Studies after the initial lockdown show that there was significant weight gain in the population due to sedentary lifestyle. This increases certain risk factors for diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and many more. “Around one million people in Austria are active in team sports. Due to the measures taken to contain the coronavirus pandemic, they were unable to practice their sport for around six months last year. As things stand, we cannot give any information about how these people can resume their training in the future. The associations will enter into an even closer dialogue with the ministries, show professional and proven solutions and ways to return to team sports at the appropriate time and thus protect and represent the interests of our members,” says ÖVV President and CEV Board of Administration member Gernot Leitner (pictured above).