The organized sports sector has received increased interest as a setting to stimulate physical activity among inactive target groups. To include many inactive people and to obtain population health benefits, it is important that effective sporting programs are sustained (i.e. continuation of program activities) over a long period of time.
This study identified the factors influencing the long-term sustainability of these kind of sporting programs located within local sports clubs in the Netherlands.
Fourteen Dutch sporting programs aimed at increasing physical activity levels of inactive population groups and funded within the National Action Plan for Sport and Exercise (NAPSE) were the focus of this study.
Results: ten of the fourteen NAPSE funded sporting programs were sustained at the level of the NSFs. Most factors facilitating (+) and impeding (−) the long-term sustainability of the programs were common to both NSFs and sports clubs, like program adaptation (+) and a lack of program financing (−). Program evaluation (+) and high program costs (−) were specific factors mentioned by NSFs, while factors related to human resources (e.g. lack of volunteers (−)) or the sports club nature (e.g. social aspect in program design (+)) applied to sports clubs. The factors were summarized in the form of a checklist.
Conclusions: key factors influencing the long-term sustainability of the sporting programs were identified. The results can be used to develop strategies to promote long-term sustainability of these kind of programs and inform funding guidelines in countries with a similar organized sports infrastructure.