Football fitness - the new student in the Danish FA’s School of Soccer – University of Copenhagen

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07 April 2015

Football fitness - the new student in the Danish FA’s School of Soccer


Be introduced to the concept of Football Fitness with the expertise of the congress collaboration partner: The Danish Football Association (DBU). Football fitness is a football based activity where fun, social perspectives and healthy outcomes is put before skill development and competition. Football Fitness attracts an increasing number of players in Denmark, among others due to the concepts’ flexible form.

Football Fitness is the new student in the Danish FA’s School of Soccer. The Danish Football Association (DBU) is the governing body of football in Denmark, holding 1650 football clubs, 330.000 active players and 70.000 volunteers. Football Fitness is organized in 200 voluntary football clubs and approx. 3000 players are attending. DBU will give you give you an introduction to Football Fitness during the warm up session in the social football tournament. You can also visit their exhibition stand for further insights.

Sports sociologist Laila Ottesen and PhD-student Søren Bennike from the University of Copenhagen work closely on a study concerning the implementation of Football Fitness. Laila Ottesen speaks of Football Fitness as an organized version of Football where fun, social perspectives and healthy outcomes is put before skill development and competition. She further stated that the concept of Football Fitness launched by DBU and the Sports Confederation of Denmark in 2011 “is an example of how an established sport such as football is reacting to the outside world and trying to reinvent itself. An outside world where increased health focus and increased flexibility in relation to sport are putting pressure on traditional club sport”.

To further elaborate on the increased focus on flexibility in sports participation Søren Bennike says; “In Denmark the number of physically active has been rising and quadrupled since 1964. But if you look closely at the numbers, the participants in what we would define as traditional sports clubs, has leveled out or even dropped heavily since 2007, according to which source you find reliable. No matter what, this tells us that self-organized sport, often being individual, commercialized, health-orientated and definitely more flexible, is really successful at this moment, leaving voluntary organized sport, such as leisure football in a soft spot. This is a pattern existing in several other European countries. The issue of flexibility is at this moment a crucial factor for organized leisure sport”. Bennike also states, that “As is the case with Football Fitness in leisure football, other traditional team sports are following the trends by wanting to incorporate more flexibility into the organized game. This is not going to be an easy task and by closely watching the implementation of Football Fitness we see examples of modern worlds colliding with traditional worlds, challenging the implementation and success of Football Fitness”.

How is Football Fitness flexible?

“I don’t believe that you will be able to establish the same amount of flexibility in a game like football as is the case of going to your local 24hr open fitness center. By all means, football is a social game and I don’t believe that you should try to change that. Among others we have concluded that 90 % of all Football Fitness teams train at the same time of hour on the same day every week. It will be wrong to think flexibility only in the perspective of the actual training time of activity. One major thing concerning flexibility in Football Fitness is that you don’t play matches every weekend. And when you don’t play matches, you don’t need fixed rules. This means that each team can make up their own style of training providing a huge flexibility on that point. In a historical perspective football has progressed from local rules to international rules, and in the game of Football Fitness you might find the rules going back to local”, says Bennike.

To further reflect on “the no fixed rules – perspective”, the national project manager of Football Fitness Kenneth Grønlund Rasmussen said: “Basically there are no other rules, other than the ones agreed upon by the players. This also means that no teams are alike. That said Football Fitness is primarily played by men or women in the age of 30-50. But we also experience more specific target groups like +70 women or diabetic patients. Our perspective behind Football Fitness is that football should embrace all – also the participants, who do not want to compete. Or players who wish to play in another form than the one usually organized by the clubs and DBU. Some teams like to play “two teams – two goals” and no other rules and nothing more. Others wish to incorporate individual practical skill orientated exercises or strength training. And so they do. It is central that the team makes the rules fit the player’s expectations”.

DBU is delighted to be part of the 8th World Congress on Science & Football and welcomes all congress participants!