Sports courts in Barcelona: the current problem of sports spaces disappearance

Sports courts in Barcelona: the current problem of sports spaces disappearance

After analyzing the current situation in the study of the use of municipal playgrounds and sports centers by district, and anticipating the sports spaces disappearance impact would have on children and young people, there is a need to reflect on sports spaces uses coexistence. Is part of the municipal initiative on sports spaces transformation within the framework on Playground Plan for public nursery and primary schools. This is the third edition promoted by the Barcelona City Council through the Education Consortium. 

Districts with high population density diagnosis reveals that more sport fields are required, comply with the regulatory measures, as well as optimal spaces and sports centers. So that, it is verified that the educational and municipal centers do not cover the current needs to develop extracurricular sport activities offered by Families and Students Association (AFA) or entities of each district. 

Several cities in Catalonia have also joined the initiative of co-educational yards, as well as other communities like Madrid, Andalusia, Valencia, Galicia, and Balearic Islands. Common points are found in terms of public policies, introducing changes in the design of the yard spaces so that it has diverse spaces to promote other games and disciplines such as reading, resting, or self-protecting from the heat. These elements are considered relevant for education and free time from a 360º perspective. 

The problem appears in the transformation of the yard, that according to the platform not one inch less, endanger the viability of the practice of physical activity and sports since it does not contemplate in any case, constructive alternatives that do not imply a reduction of conventional sports spaces (sport tracks) already limited, and in many cases degraded. In school playgrounds, not only futsal is played, but sports like basketball, volleyball, hockey, handball, and figure skating also uses the sport yards, as well as on sports initiation, first sports beginning for the little ones. 

Eliminating or reducing sport fields dimensions shows that the spaces for leisure and extracurricular activities also have an educational and socializing function. It should receive more attention than it has received so far, redesigning spaces according to gender and LGTBIQ+ perspective. It should be possible to request a diversification of activities based on offer expansion with habits and an educational project review. 

According to the study of school spaces uses during extracurricular activities, social use in educational centers for the neighborhoods is highlighted, since they are built in several spaces -classrooms, libraries, gyms, tracks, etc.- becoming the sports centers in proximity, ideal for hosting activities directed and promoted by various collectives. An access barrier is the building conception of itself, which generally does not have direct access from the street regardless of the lighting and alarm panel. 

For the use of sports spaces outside of school hours, it is necessary to consider the extension of concierge hours and the incorporation of a sport instructor figure who ensures the spaces proper use, with spending increase in personal budget that it entails. Additionally, the interaction of three main agents must be considered: the center's management, the local corporation, and local population as applicants for spaces to develop activities. 

Finally, it should be borne in mind that, if it is encouraged, the school is an inclusive space, a space where family activities can be carried out and where entities have their place, close to citizenship. It is in everyone's hands to ensure an active, inclusive childhood and youth with healthy habits. It is necessary to find a solution between all the agents involved that allows a wide range of uses without affecting children’s physical activity and sports practice for an active and healthy lifestyle.