On 09/24/2012 Lena Herrmann and I were invited by Mr Schünemann, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Sports in Lower Saxony. We were among 75 other students and trainees at a “round table” in the Ministry at Hannover. On this occasion problems of compatibility of education with competitive sports were to be discussed and we were supposed to look for solutions. The whole group was divided into students and trainees. In each plenary problems and suggestions were collected. Lena and I focused on scholar issues and addressed some problems such as the lack of additional morning training, attunement of load peaks (competitions, exams, training courses, school trips), catching up missed school classes and other things more. We advocated for the respect of individual needs of athletes and made suggestions for a better cooperation between our climbing association and the ministries. By the way we could see that, in almost all cases, the promotion of fringe sports like climbing is significantly worse in relation to the “Olympians” in Lower Saxony. There is no doubt about a disparity, despite the fact that we have to train as hard and lengthy as in Olympic sports too. Mr Schünemann, in support of Mrs Wallenhorst, who works in the sports department of the ministry, recorded all the athletes’ wishes and suggestions and promised to stand up for their problems. Last of all, Lena and I handed over a letter (Letter to Minister Schünemann, in German) to Mr Schünemann, which provides an overview of the problems and solutions from the perspective of the North German climbing athletes.
On 11/29/2012 we had a second “round table” on the “dual career in competitive sports”. Now Minister Schünemann invited representatives from sports, politics and business for further discussion. This time, the areas of school and university education, professional training and job life were treated in common round. To this meeting only four final athletes were invited, among these Lena and me as athletes’ representatives. We both had the privilege to open the session with a description of the problems viewed from the athletes’ perspective. Our focus was again on the school situation. We spoke about the insufficient coordination of school and competitive sports in terms of missing double sessions trainings, no coordination of peak loads, lack of catching-up lessons and, on system-level, no enforcement and power of school sport coordinators. Our views of the problems were picked up, supported and expanded by the representatives of the sports federations. Together with the business representatives they proposed increased funding for individual cases of particularly talented athletes in the fringe or non-funded sports, as well as we already mentioned it in our letter to Minister Schünemann.
Finally, one can say that there is still a lot to do on dual careers in competitive sports in Lower Saxony. All participants made a real effort on this. Lena, I and our climbing association will also strive to continue exchange and cooperation on the issue.
Appendix: Letter to Minister Schünemann