The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports has the vision of “Joy of sport – for all”, which means they want as many people as possible to take part in sporting activities. A high level of volunteer work at the sports clubs makes it possible for people to take part without it being too expensive. The exact costs vary from sport to sport, while various financial support schemes make it even easier to part of a sports club.
The overriding goal in Norway is that everyone who wishes to participate in sport or arrange their own physical activity should have the opportunity to do so. The vision of “Joy of sport – for all” means that sport should be broadly inclusive and that one’s economic situation should not exclude children and young people from participating.
However, research shows that some children don’t have the opportunity to participate in recreational activities for economic reasons. Their parents simply can’t afford it. That should not be the case.
The proportion of children growing up in poverty in Norway continues to increase. As the gap between rich and poor grows, society in general and sport in particular needs to be more conscious of the costs associated with participation in sport. Achieving the goal of every child having the opportunity to participate in sport requires spreading knowledge about where those who need help can get it. This involves the sport, the parents and guardians and society in general taking responsibility.
In Norway, parents and guardians have the main responsibility for providing for their children. This also applies to the children’s participation in recreational activities. The younger the child, the more help they need help from their parents. This includes ensuring they get to their sports practice, have the right gear and follow the club’s rules. Sport in Norway is based on volunteer work. In most clubs, the coaches and team managers etc. are parents or other volunteers. Contributing in this way gives a sense of unity that means a lot to many people. In Norway, we have a concept called “dugnad”, which means doing volunteer work together. Meeting new people is part of the joy of doing such volunteer work and reinforces what we call Norway’s dugnad culture.
Having a meaningful recreation is important for both enjoyment and quality of life. You can make new friends, learn new skills and gain interests that for some people last a lifetime. Sport is the largest recreational arena for children in Norway.
Sporting activities occur at sports clubs. There are around 11,000 sports clubs in Norway that arrange sporting activities for adults and children. It costs money to run these clubs.
Some clubs own training facilities and some even employ staff. This and other variations mean that costs vary from sport to sport and club to club. There are also costs associated with taking part in tournaments and events. This is usually in the form of a set contribution per participant towards accommodation, food and travel. Many clubs organise fundraising activities to limit the amount each family needs to pay. If you don’t have your own car, you can always ask other parents if they have space to take your child. Feel free to ask the coach or team manager about this.
The cost of participating in sport varies. Ice hockey and downhill skiing are sports that generally cost more than, for instance, basketball, handball, athletics and football. One reason for this is the cost of clothes and equipment. Playing a sport like ice hockey requires the individual to have certain equipment and the costs associated with this increase as the child gets older. Remember that your child does not need the most expensive equipment available. The main thing is that the equipment serves the purpose and is appropriate to the age and level.
You can ask the coach or others if you have any questions about this. Remember you don’t always need new gear. It’s possible to buy second-hand gear, including via groups on Facebook. Some sports clubs and other groups arrange second-hand markets where you can buy used equipment and clothes at cheap prices. As well as saving money, this is sensible in terms of recycling and environmental considerations.
In some municipalities, you can also borrow sporting equipment free of charge through various council-run schemes.
Financial assistance is also available for those who need it. Many people experience financial problems at various times and for various reasons. However, it’s important that the children in these families can still participate in the recreational activity they want to. The financial support schemes available vary from place to place, so ask someone at your local municipal council about what is available locally. In general, parents or guardians can apply for financial support from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (also known as NAV). If you are in an introductory programme, you may be eligible for assistance via the National Refugee Service or your local municipal council.
You can also ask the sports club to split the invoice up so you can pay it off over a longer period. Some sports clubs have solidarity funds, inclusion funds or other schemes that parents or guardians may apply for financial support from. In some municipalities, the Red Cross and Salvation Army can also assist.
When you receive the invoice, you must pay it by the stipulated date. If you are unable to pay, need longer to pay or want the invoice spilt into several smaller amounts, you must contact the sports club. If the “activity guide scheme” has been started in your municipality, this person can provide guidance about the support schemes available. Otherwise, there are various others you can contact such as the local sports council, public health nurse, school counsellor or the relevant contact at the municipal council. Solutions can generally be found if the right people know about the challenges.
Sports are working continuously to limit the costs associated with practicing and competing. The same goes for the use of expensive equipment in children’s and youth sports. Keeping costs down is a joint responsibility for everyone involved, including the sport and the parents or guardians.
What we are all looking for is to create “Joy of sport – for all”. While this is an ambitious vision, we want to go to great lengths to ensure that absolutely everyone can experience the joy of participating in sport.