(No) special leave for volunteers

By Laura TomassiniLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

The new law on sports leave is a relief for many volunteers in Luxembourg's clubs. However, those who do not participate in international tournaments and competitions only benefit to a limited extent from the innovations of the "congé sportif" (sports leave, editor's note.) because the number of available holidays is very limited in youth and popular sports.

Licenses, transfers, finding coaches, meetings with parents, training schedules, e-mails – the list of tasks Stefan Guden has to deal with as youth coordinator at CS Fola Esch is long. The 31-year-old has been working as a volunteer at the soccer club in Esch for four years, taking care of the more than 300 players between the ages of two and 19 who play football here in their free time. The newly minted father performs his function alongside his job and family, this between 56 and over 100 hours a month. "That goes from two hours a day to seven hours on weekends. At night, I often sit there from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., when the rest of the family is already sleeping, " Stefan says.

From the coming season, the youth coordinator will have to scale back his activities at the club somewhat, because despite the innovations in the "congé sportif" (sports leave, editor's note) voted through by the Chamber of Deputies on July 4, which will come into force from 2024, the time between his job, volunteering and being a father is becoming too short. The reason: fewer and fewer volunteers in sports, thus more work for those who are still active, but little to no time compensation for all those who are not in the competitive milieu and devote their time to mass or recreational sports.

A calculation that doesn't add up

"If you look at the table of the new law, the third category in blue affects clubs like ours. However, the first three points are linked to tournaments, training or other sporting events that must be organized or at least recognized by an international federation, but this is often not the case, especially in youth and amateur sports. Tournaments are often organized by the clubs themselves", says Stefan. Only the UEFA Youth League is recognized by UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) and thus permissible for sports leave, but only the U19 teams of UEFA Champions League participants and national junior champions have access to it.

"The only thing that volunteers like me benefit from is the 'ongoing administration' category, for which there is a maximum of only six days' leave per club, " Stefan complains. At Fola, he says, around 50 volunteers would be eligible, all of whom handle day-to-day tasks vital to the club's survival – "so who's entitled to the holiday? The president? Vice-president? Secretary? Sporting director or me?" he asks. The youth coordinator does not see the change in the law as a real help, but rather as potential for conflict, because it is not the Ministry of Sport, but the club itself that decides who receives the vacation days.

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