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Urban sports policy - 2. Achieving

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 implement 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 phase 2: realising policy in Nijmegen in which we cover the following:

  1. Organising (step 5)

  2. Planning (step 6)

  3. Implementing (step 7)

  4. Collective urban funding pot

  5. Tips from Nijmegen

  6. Recommendations for infrastructure


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 policy - calisthenics park

Calisthenics park

How to make urban sports policy?

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 Nijmegen: deployment of an urban community sports coach

The municipality of Nijmegen is a good example of the second phase of policy-making: policy realisation. You can read how Nijmegen - after the initial devising of policy - set to work on its realization. This involves organisation, planning and implementation.

Nijmegen's sports policy (2022) has a particular focus: what is needed to further develop and facilitate 'urban culture'? The municipality picked up this ambition, together with the representatives of that urban culture in the city. And from this focus - in addition to sports and exercise - the health and art & culture sectors are also explicitly involved. Besides, Nijmegen had not only urban sports - skating, 3×3 basketball and freerunning - explored, but also urban arts, such as graffiti and 'spoken word'.

Step 5: Organizing

Urban beleid - Urban buurtsportcoach

The research by LINES by CityLegends showed that there are already several initiators in Nijmegen for the various urban disciplines. One of these leaders is Daryl Then, who has a background in breakdance and freestyle basketball. The municipality assigned Daryl a city-wide role as urban community sports coach. Thanks to his background and network in the urban scene, he easily connects with the initiators of other urban sports in the city.

Daryl Then, one of many urban community sports coach in the Netherlands

These initiators consist of entrepreneurs, foundations and enthusiasts who want the best for their discipline. Together, they form the collective 'Urban Street Culture (USC)'. This collective has formulated a vision and is looking at possibilities and opportunities for urban sports and culture in Nijmegen. So the municipality is implementing the urban sports planning bottom-up. And Nijmegen looks into - and works on - more urban sports and culture in the city from different levels.

To ensure that the municipality's policy officers are familiar with what the scene does and wants, Daryl invites policy officers to come and experience it for themselves. In these sessions, the urban community sports coach shares his knowledge and puts policy staff in touch with the scene to get them thinking about urban policy. What is the difference between freerun and parkour, for instance? And how can the municipality meet the needs of the scene?

Step 6: Planning

The sessions with the initiators and the municipality resulted in a lot of wishes for locations and activities. The municipality will include these wishes in the planning of the new implementation framework for domains Moving, Meeting, Playing and Sports (BOSS in Dutch). The urban community sports coach ensures that the cultural aspect of urban is also included in the plans.

Marieke van Kan (BOSS project leader) is drafting this BOSS implementation framework and stresses the importance of a good spreading of urban facilities. "The urban athletes do know their way around the city. In consultation with them, we bring variation in the supply in the city districts, so that there are eventually sufficient facilities for all disciplines. We look at the opportunities offered by public space. At street level, for instance, a pavement can already be interesting for a beginning skateboarder. And street furniture like a bench or stairs, can already offer opportunities for freerunning."

A facility in the outdoor space for fall prevention for seniors can also be a great spot for parkour. We are increasingly involving urban athletes in urban developments. They inspire designers to design outdoor spaces in such a way that (urban) athletes can perform their tricks and skills there.

Besides hardware, Nijmegen also invests in software such as introductory activities, guidance and information. The initiators have their own urban programme, but contribute ideas on how Nijmegen can organise urban more broadly. For instance, in the field of education, talent development and welfare.

Step 7: Execute

In Nijmegen, not only the brainstorming about, but also the implementation of urban sports and cultural facilities is done in close cooperation with the community. Marieke: "That process is time-consuming but enormously important, because we want to involve everyone in designing the public space. Besides the urban scene, these include local residents, surrounding entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. Residents and users sometimes have opposing interests, but by talking, great solutions emerge."

This applies to the realisation of larger facilities, but also to smaller objects in the city.

"Not everyone wants a skateable curb in front of their door. The community itself also actively generates support in the neighbourhood. For example, by discussing with local residents how to make it more pleasant. It is nice to challenge the community to stimulate local residents - especially children and youth - with their sport. With shows and education, for instance, but especially by starting a conversation with each other."

Collective urban funding pool

Regarding financial resources for implementation: Nijmegen has started a pilot with a funding urban sports & culture from May 1st, 2023. As urban is cross-domain, several domains contribute to this pool. "That took some searching," says Evelien Peetsold (advisor real estate, sports and accommodations Nijmegen). "The different domains have different goals. You have to find each other in that." The initiators of USC also made an effort for additional funding, Evelien explains. "They have a big heart for youngsters and for their discipline. We as a municipality should be happy about that. That they are there and that they are just doing this. If we can empower them, you do a lot of great things for the city."

Two pumptracks were recently realised in Nijmegen: one in city district Lindenholt and one under the city bridge de Oversteek close to skatepark Waalhalla. A 3×3 court was also built in Dukenburg. These new facilities can also be used by athletes with disabilities. For the future, there are ideas to create a large skate park near the Goffert.

Tips from Nijmegen

Familiarise policy staff with urban.

Include the cultural aspect of urban in planning.

Be aware that urban involves different disciplines with different needs.

Implement the planning bottom-up for realizing the most impact.

Facility recommendations

1. Avoid one-sided supply when setting up urban sports spots, think broader than just roller sports (BMX, step, skating, inlining) and calistenics.
2. When setting up urban sports spots, also consider girls (e.g. dancing in public spaces) such as a public toilet and visibility guidelines on who enters the park.
3. Make sure the urban sports venue is socially safe. This can be done by creating a lot of activity with events, but also by ensuring that multiple target groups use the same location or by supervision or enforcement.
4. Also consider people with disabilities (e.g. with an inclusive exercise-friendly environment) and ensure good accessibility. Ensure that a central urban sports location in the neighbourhood is easily and safely accessible.
5. Consider elements such as a cover for shelter from rain, a water tap, a hangout and a public toilet.
6. Don't just think about realising central urban sports venues, but also about play facilities in the neighbourhood, challenging street furniture, and don't remove all pavements because it is in these places that urban athletes make their first experiences.

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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