€20 million investment for Bolognese sport

Lepore: “Conceiving sport as an ‘urban meeting place’ and therefore ‘care of relationships’, allows us to look at a new role of sporting policies, like cultural ones”.



A delegation at Illumia auditorium discussed a strategic plan of ‘Bologna for sport’, on behalf of the Municipality and supported by the scientific outfit Nomisma. It represented the study focused on sport and sporting practices in Bologna due to the role that sport plays in the city. A council spokesperson said: “Sport is a vehicle for social inclusion, improving health and quality of life, well-being of the community and a factor of promoting the territory.”

“For the first time in its history, Bologna Municipality decided to plan a Strategic Plan for Sport,” explains Councilor for Sport, Tourism and Culture Matteo Lepore . “The municipal administration, in this mandate, wanted to give greater importance to sport, both in terms of resources and carrying out an internal reorganization of the Municipality of Bologna. In particular, the mayor wants to create a single Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports as a strong choice for integrating his policies that have most weight, both on the international circuit for promoting the city, and on the social cohesion of neighbourhoods. Making sport as ‘a place for urban encounters’ and therefore ‘taking care of relationships’, allows us to look at a new role of sports policies, as in the case of cultural policies. A global strategy for sustainability that, if it falls within the regional and Bolognese context, it can identify the network of sports facilities and associations material and immaterial infrastructures of extraordinary value, around which to organize a new role of public institutions, citizens, ‘civil entrepreneurs’ and educators, to mention just a few of the main protagonists.”

Nomisma€uro investment

A plan that envisages the following investments, by the municipal administration, through its budget or agreements has already been signed: €7 million euro for municipal land sports facilities; €3 million euro for local gyms; €500,000 for playgrounds and locker rooms for school gyms; €4 million euro for PalaDozza and €6 million euro for municipal pools.

In the city, there are 90,000 active athletes. When compared to the general population, this figure indicates a presence of 88.9 registered athletes per 1,000 inhabitants – 4% more than the regional figure and well over 20% compared to the national average.

On the competitive field it is football that is more successful, with 16,789 athletes registered with Coni, followed by basketball (9,608), tennis (7,989) and volleyball (5,812). A analysis of these numbers reveal a peculiarity for Bologna. In the city, basketball is the second most practiced competitive sport, unlike the rest of Italy or Emilia-Romagna, where instead it is volleyball next to football. In amateur sports the picture changes as the most practiced disciplines include: swimming with 30,700 people involved, followed by free-body gymnastics or with physical equipment (17,700 practitioners), football (15,623) and dancing (11,287).

School age commitment

The survey conducted by Nomisma highlights the data across the city, signalling a massive propensity for sport and movement among the young generation. In fact, 84% of students between the ages of 6 and 19 have been practicing sports in the last year, while only 5% have a completely sedentary life. The breakdown by age shows a decline as age increases. The tendency to practice sports among boys 14-19 years stops at 74%, whilst compared to previous age groups interest in sports drops to 10% for limited physical exercise.

There is a physiological departure from sport mainly due to greater school commitments. 26% of secondary school children did not play sports in the last year or replaced sports with another hobby (20 %).

Age is a determining factor even considering the reasons why sport and physical activities are practiced. Boys of primary and secondary schools in first grade play sport for fun or the desire to keep fit (motivation declared by 22% of secondary school children who have practiced sport).

Moreover, with reference to the type of sport practiced, in the case of swimming it’s emblematic of an activity that decreases among the youngest (42% of those doing sport), but which loses its position over the years, dropping to 16% of secondary school students.

Foreigners and the elderly in sport

As part of Nomisma’s research it also analysed the social value of sport, given the important role as an instrument of inclusion. With this in mind, specific insights were conducted on two targets of interest: foreign students and the over 65’s.

Compared to the first focus, there is a lower propensity of young foreigners to practice sports on a continuous basis compared to peers born with both Italian parents: only 43% of students born abroad with at least one foreign parent practiced sports on a regular basis, compared to 55% of students born in Italy with at least one foreign parent and even 83% registered among students with both Italian parents.

There’s a greater inclination of foreign students to practice activities without an instructor in open-access sports (17% of students born abroad by at least one foreign parent practicing sport versus 3% of young practitioners with both Italian parents).

The focus on the elderly was achieved through interviews in social centres for the elderly across the city. It shows the demand and the importance of keeping fit, but in essence that sport is not only for the young, but sport is for the whole city.

In fact, 69% of over 65s have practiced sport in the last 12 months, mainly at the doctor’s encouragement; 38% prefer activities such as gentle/postural gymnastics, which is the discipline chosen by 75% of those who practice sports in organized structures. Those who do not take part in organized courses stay on the move and exercise (76% of those over 65): especially walking is popular (79% of those who move), especially in parks (57%) or in public spaces (38 %), thus favouring outdoor practice.

City sporting areas

In terms of facilities, Bologna is an important part of the metropolitan city’s sporting services. According to data produced by Coni in 2015, the city boasts 569 sports complexes (44% of the total metropolitan area), 843 facilities (48% of the total metropolitan area) and 1,296 elementary spaces for physical activities. In this context, the municipal administration manages or owns 20% of the spaces available in the city, subdivided into 117 structures including sports complexes and facilities and 259 elementary spaces.

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