Sports as a means for social integration

When Production shift supervisor Oliver Tornack of Industrial Chemicals in Bitterfeld had a discussion with his colleagues about a news item they had heard on the radio regarding national social problems, they decided to make a serious contribution. The problems touched on were a.o. a reduction of the population, integration problems with migrants and participation of deprived groups in societal activities. Also the increasing trend that younger people leave their home ground in search of better job perspectives and payment elsewhere makes the need for a better developed infrastructure, as well as broader opportunities to spend their free time, very actual. 'We all agreed that the major problems are a matter for the local and national governments, but we also thought that every individual should make a contribution', said Oliver.

Being an active member of the volleyball association he brought his club into the game. A discussion took place about how they could start on a small-scale in Bitterfeld-Wolfen to make the sports activities more attractive for children and youngsters. In the conviction that participation in sports improves certain qualities in human beings, like persistence, taking responsibility, team spirit, etc. they decided to facilitate poor children, migrant children but also children from working parents to come to the weekly trainings. As the trainings take place between 3 and 7 pm it is often difficult for parents to drive their children there and for others there simply is no transport available.

Therefore the purchase of a minibus, which makes it possible to transport the children to and from the training sessions, would be an appropriate solution. The trainers as well as other members of the association would act as drivers, also when competitions elsewhere take place. An investigation on costs of purchase of a minibus as well as the improvement of the beach volleyball fields for summer activities was made and support from the Community Program was granted.

Oliver Tornack convinced 4 of his colleagues to join him in the preparation and regular maintenance of the 8 fields to be used for playing beach volleyball in the summer period. The initiative of our colleagues in Bitterfeld was very well received by many parents who already gladly accepted the new opportunities offered to their children. As Oliver said: 'we are now able to offer children, interested in sports, to participate in societal activities and we can keep underprivileged youngsters off the streets. By involving the AkzoNobel volunteers and the members of the volleyball club, the town's budget is positively affected. This is our contribution to reduce lack of perspective and prevent youngsters to become criminals and to make our town a more attractive place to live and work'.