Why cooperate with equestrian sport in Denmark?- Ulf Helgstrand, President, Danish Equestrian Federation

By iSportconnect | August 7, 2012


In a small country like Denmark, we have more than 200,000 horses. The equestrianism contributes with more than 5 billion US dollars yearly. It employs more than 21,000 people fulltime and more than 8,000 volunteers. We are pending between being the 7th. and the 8th biggest sport in our country. Our national federation has 70,000 members in 500 clubs.

Why is it unique and attractive?

Equestrian sport is a sport for the whole life. Seniors in their twenties and people 80+ are competing on equal conditions in all levels. Furthermore, men and women are also competing on equal conditions. We are the only Olympic sport competing together with and depending on an animal. In order to get results horse welfare is essential. It is a green sport, respecting the surroundings in our nature. Our royal family supports the sport both as patrons and active athletes. All issues of great value in a modern society and attractive for partners.

Topsport is expensive, but the sport as such can compete with any other sport financially. Because of this we have members from all parts of our society.

A successful story could be having a tophorse and rider educated at home in the barn competing with the best professional riders, as well as the daily pleasure dealing with the horse and riding in the forest and in the fields.

Nursing Partners

To me it is very important that a sponsorship is taken seriously and not only as a gift making the show go on. Therefore, a sponsor must be treated with respect and with the purpose to make them visible. Even more important is to give the sponsors themselves a good experience both sports wise, but also visibility in VIP areas etc. Believe me, this is what they expect, even if they say they don’t care about special treatment etc.

How do we get there?

The federation must be a reliable partner for everybody, including the sponsors. It is a hard work to build up this confidence and it can be spoiled within a second if you make mistakes.

Running a big sport organisation is very different compared to running a profit giving company of any other kind, in my opinion.

With a big organization like ours we need a professional staff, but the real power is the enthusiastic volunteers. Without them it was impossible to have all the activities we have every weekend. The board members are elected and volunteers as well.

If you want success with a mixed staff of professionals and volunteers, it is crucial that all volunteers accept the job and never uses the excuse that they did not do it in time because they are volunteers. I often use the expression “a volunteer is not a volunteer any more as soon as he/she is elected or appointed”. It is important to keep this in mind in order to get your results and at the same time show respect for the work that is done.

When the organisation has this mixed staff it is also of greatest importance to have job descriptions for everyone, and a clear definition of who is doing what, especially between the board members and the staff. The only one who can delegate work to the professional staff is the professional CEO and not the president or other volunteers. This communication must go through the CEO, otherwise he/she would not be able to run daily business.

To be reliable and successful, it is important that everybody accept and respect each other no matter where you are in the organisation.

Solve problems inside and not in the media.

If we as sport organisation do so, we will be an attractive partner to the rest of our society.

We have done all this and are just waiting for more partners to join us.

Ulf Helgstrand’s isportconnect-profile-widget

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