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Urban sports policy - 1. Devising

Does your municipality have specific policies for urban sports? How do you link this to cross-domain sports policy? And how - specifically for urban sports - do you flesh out the different phases of the policy process? In a series of three articles, we share practical examples of how various municipalities approach this. This is the part about phase 1: devising policy in Dordrecht.

Article content:

  1. Urban Sports in Dordrecht: setting goals based on data

  2. Step 1: Agenda-setting

  3. Step 2: Forming a vision

  4. Step 3: Analysing

  5. Step 4: Setting goals

  6. Most practised urban sports and locations in Dordrecht

  7. An urban sports director

  8. Recommendations


Policy examples urban sports

This article is part of three case studies on making policy in terms of urban sports.

In the publication Municipalities take up Urban Sports from 'Kennisbank Sport en Bewegen', you will find an extensive description on these cases.

Urban sporters

How to make urban sports policy in the Netherlands and Flanders?

Urban sports are a collective of activities, which differs a lot from traditional sports policy in municipalities. Urban sports can be seen as a fusion of sports and culture. Within municipalities, there are different departments and budgets for each single activity in this fusion. The 'do it yourself' mentality of the urban sporters scene can be at odds with the mentality of municipalities, where safety and rules are the highest priority. These tensions result in urban sports policy not fitting in with the sports policy of your municipality. How can we fix this? Let us show you with the Roadmap Movement-friendly Environment.

Policy in 3 phases and 9 steps

The Roadmap Movement-friendly Environment is our e-learning map where you will find 9 clear steps on how to achieve sustainable policy for a movement-friendly environment. The map contains the total process, from agenda setting to policy assurance. Every step embodies tips and tricks.

  • Phase 1: Thinking (setting the agenda, forming a vision, analyzing and setting goals)

  • Phase 2: Achieve (organise, plan and execute)

  • Phase 3: Follow-up (monitoring & evaluation and securing & anchoring)

Urban Sports in Dordrecht: setting goals based on data

Dordrecht rarely invested in urban sports in the past. When it was time to renew the sports policy, the municipality anticipated by putting urban sports on the agenda. In this article we will focus on how Dordrecht addressed phase 1.

Step 1: Setting the agenda

Dordrecht was one step ahead in terms of setting the agenda. Skatepark Maasplaza already received its national attention. In addition, two local urban sporters (football freestyler and calisthenics expert) even found their international attention. Therefore Dordrecht decided to integrate these sports in the new policy. The municipality gained inspiration from Rotterdam for example, on how to integrate sports and culture in the public space.

Step 2: Forming a vision

In the past, investment in urban sports - such as skateboarding - in Dordrecht was always incidental. Tim Verbaas (Dordrecht Sports Coach & Urban Sports Director) explains:

"A skater group had emerged under the Zwijndrecht bridge, the Stadhuisplein was skated to pieces and we converted a wooden skate track into concrete. And when money was left over due to corona funds, the Games Department used it to build 3×3 basketball courts. But those were always incidental projects. A collaborative approach was lacking."

The sports agreement offered new opportunities in Dordrecht to develop a cross-domain vision for public space. In the new policy plan 'Nobody offside in Dordrecht' (2023), councillor for sport Marc Merx formulated the vision as follows: "Sports venues are true meeting places, where an important contribution is made to making Dordtenaren happier, healthier and stronger. Therefore, these locations must be future-proof and invite or even challenge people to exercise. This applies not only to the accommodations of our great sports associations, but also to public spaces."

Step 3: Analyzing

To put urban sports policy into concrete terms, Dordrecht started with a broad analysis of the current situation. Track Landscapes studied the behaviour and preferences of active users of the (urban) landscape: pedestrians, cyclists, athletes and recreational users. The research showed both needs and issues. Together with Kantar, NOC*NSF also drew up a sports participation index for Dordrecht. Finally, LINES by CityLegends collected the specific wishes and needs of urban athletes (see City Scan).

Step 4: Setting goals

Based on the results of the analysis, the municipality formulated the programme guideline within its sports policy: 'An environment that invites sport and exercise'. Containing five concrete goals:

  1. A quality impulse of outdoor sports space.

  2. Increase in the use of public space for sports and athletic exercise.

  3. The outdoor sports space as a meeting place in the local area.

  4. The outdoor sports space is clean, intact and safe.

  5. A legally applicable sports standard in area development and new construction.

As intermediate goals for 2026 with regard to urban sports, Dordrecht wants to:

  • Establish at least 5 new urban sports spots in the city.

  • Activate at least 400 'new' youngsters to use the sporting space for urban sports.

  • Reach an athletes based rating on the outdoor sports space with an 8 or higher.

An urban sports director

So, that is how Dordrecht went through the first phase of the policy process. To continue this process well, the municipality appointed an urban sports director. They make sure the internal domains like Sports, Culture, Youth and Mobility work well together. A good example is the Dordwijk zone. A city park XXL is being built with a lot of space for sports and movement, with urban sports also getting their own area.

Tips from Dordrecht

  • Engage in expectation management: don't make promises you can't keep.

  • Research first, then build on figures.

  • Build networks and links with experts and role models (key persons).

Most practised urban sports and locations in Dordrecht

Information comes from a study in collaboration with LINES by CityLegends.

Urban sports in Dordrecht


1. Involve the community in developing both locations and urban policies. In this, use the knowledge and experience of key-persons like the urban pioneers, top talents, but also beginners.
2. Always pay attention to hardware, software and orgware (BVO model) even though many urban athletes have a 'do it yourself' mentality.

Want to get started with urban in your municipality?

Want to get to know your local Urban Sports & Culture community better and take the next step? Feel free to contact Yorick Knijff or Jimmy Hermans of LINES by CityLegends!


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