VUB researchers investigate need for infrastructure at basketball and volleyball clubs

VUB researchers investigate need for infrastructure at basketball and volleyball clubs

While the Belgian Cats women’s basketball team have qualified gloriously for the Olympics in Paris this summer, Flemish clubs are having difficulty training new talent. That is the finding of Prof Inge Derom and doctoral student Kari Descheemaeker, of the Sport & Society research group at the VUB. Commissioned by sports federations Basketbal Vlaanderen and Volley Vlaanderen, they investigated the needs of sports clubs regarding infrastructure and the current and future growth of basketball and volleyball in Flanders.

shutterstock image
shutterstock image

The research consisted of two tasks. First, analysing existing data about membership of Basketbal Vlaanderen and Volley Vlaanderen. Second, designing and carrying out a large-scale survey of sports clubs to assess the use and quality of infrastructure, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the clubs’ operations. Via an online survey, 131 basketball clubs (58% of all clubs) and 98 volleyball clubs (38%) indicated their needs.

“For both basketball and volleyball, we see an increase in the number of affiliated members between 2014 and 2022,” says Prof Derom. “Based on the current popularity of the sports, we predict a further rise by 2030.” An increase in membership means an increase in the use of infrastructure. This is where clubs face a major problem at the local level: about seven in 10 clubs cannot recruit further members with their current, limited access to infrastructure. “Clubs don’t have sufficient hours available in the existing infrastructure to organise training sessions and/or matches. According to our results, fewer than three in 10 clubs can organise their activities in one location. Additionally, more than five in 10 clubs have problems with the quality of that infrastructure,” adds Descheemaeker.

It is concerning that clubs have so many unmet needs. “Primarily, it is about the need for additional hours and courts to organise training and competitions, but also about the quality of available infrastructure. Investments in new infrastructure such as 3x3 and beach volleyball courts were also brought up. Almost five out of 10 basketball clubs want to offer 3x3, but the lack of playable and available outdoor courts unfortunately prevents this,” says Prof Derom. As well as a shortage of infrastructure, many clubs have implemented a pause on new memberships because of a lack of qualified coaches.

The results of the survey are relevant for various stakeholders in the sports sector, particularly local clubs (as well as for other sports such as gymnastics and indoor football), federations and owners/operators of infrastructure. Investment in infrastructure appears to be essential.


Inge Derom [email protected]

0498 53 28 47

Koen Stein
Koen Stein Perscontact wetenschap & innovatie




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