In the province of Västergötland in Sweden major steps have been taken to ensure that children’s and young people’s perspective are central to how youth sport will be organised and carried out. The Västgotlands Football, Ice hockey and Handball federations have come together to create a project called “Consenus Västgötland” to set up common guidelines for child and youth sport.
Consensus Vastergotland” has been developed to encourage multi-sport participation. Through this partnership the three federations are taking joint responsibility for young people to engage in more sports at the same time.
The consensus calls for parents, leaders and clubs to engage with each other and talk about how different sports are competing with each other in a negative way. The system should NOT force children to choose between sports.
“We work and take joint responsibility for children and adolescents up to 16 years to be able to participate in more than one sport.”- Consensus Vastergotland
The three associations that have signed under this consensus have made a commitment to organise (as far as possible) their individual activities so that children are not “forced” to choose between one sport and another.
Many children are involved in one sport that has a focus and or demand for year round organised training. Many tournaments are organised off- season causing problems for the child’s second sport. The fear of missing out on training and falling behind is putting a lot of pressure on children so that they have a hard time choosing. There is therefore a great risk that they get tired and feel pressured.
Football: April- September
Ice Hockey: October- March
Handball: October- March
“It is about planning and having an approach where people will not have to be forced to choose. You should be able to participate in two or three sports in parallel without feeling the pressure to work harder on one or the other” (Gunilla Flink President Västgotlands Handball Federation)
- You play out your season
- Each sport can offer training “year round” for those who just choose to play one sport
- Tournaments and training organised during “low season” that clash another sports high season- The high season sport has priority. There needs to be clear communication between leaders/trainers in the various sports involved.
- The leaders/coaches are aware who participates in other sports and clearly shows that his is perfectly OK to train the “high season sport” when there is a clash.
- Each federation will take up these guidelines at meetings and ensure that youth leaders/coaches have a good knowledge of “Consenus Västgötland”.
Each federation will appoint a representative to coordinate their sport and take part in bi-annual planning activities with the other federations. The aim is to constantly work with the needs of the individual and as far as possible.
“Our wish and hope is that you as a leader and / or parent create and maintain a supportive environment so that the individual (child / youth) can practice multiple sports at the same time. Your engagement and your attitude makes a difference.”
In case of overlapping training/tournaments between the different sports the following ranking shall apply:
1) Activities at the international and national level
2) Activities at the regional level
3) Activities at the district level
“The system should not determine or force children and young people to choose a sport. This consensus is a political signal. Now it is important that the clubs go ahead and practice it here. This will not be a “cosmetic” agreement. I hope that soon we can start reporting good examples within our district“- Mikael Lindgren (Football Development and Coach Educator VFF)