Danish Gymnastics & Sports Association (DGI) is a
national organisation, working through sports and other cultural
activities to strengthen the work of local amateur associations in an
endeavour to promote the education of both youths and adults.
DGI is a sports
and cultural organisation with about 1.3 million members in
Denmark. DGI provides a long list of sports activities in the 5,500
local clubs, which are the foundation for DGI's 1.3 million members.
This is a significant number considering that Denmark has only 5.3
Each local association is a member of one of 24 regional associations
which together form DGI nation-wide. As one of Denmark's three major
national sports associations DGI is an important cultural factor in
A typical DGI local association has several activities - sports as well
as non-sport activities, the most numerous being gymnastics, football (soccer),
badminton, swimming and team handball. Apart from these five, DGI
encompasses approximately 15 other sports and cultural activities on a
has roots back as far as 1861 where events in Denmark and
other parts of Europe, particularly the volatile international climate,
led to the formation of shooting associations with the ultimate goal of
defending the nation. Later the associations adopted other sports:
gymnastics, football, badminton, handball etc. On 31 October 1992 -
after a century of frequent mergers and divisions of the national sports
associations - two old sports associations merged, forming the
modern-day DGI. Since neither of the existing national offices could
hold the administration of the new joint organisation, DGI built its new
headquarters at Vingsted (Jutland) in 1993.
DGI is under the patronage of Her Majesty
Queen Margrethe 11 of Denmark.
What do we believe in?
Democracy is not just a matter of
a certain form of government. The most important foundation for a
healthy democratic system is created in people's involvement and
commitment to the local community, where by working together With others
in an atmosphere of respect, dialog and tolerance can help rnaintain a
foundation for democracy.
Forming associations has been one of the
most fundamental characteristics of the Danish people, historically as
well as today. The right to form associations is even embodied in the
Danish constitution, which dates back to 1849.
Community, fellowship and the joy one
finds in sport are three decisive elements in DGI's work. Everyone can
join in without having to achieve a certain level of expertise.
Gymnastics in Denmark
Modern gymnastics came to Denmark
at the turn of the 18th century as a part of the Age of Enlightenment.
Danish Gymnastics in the form, which we know it today, was strongly
inspired by the Swede, P. H. Lingh at the end of the 1 9th century. Over
the years it has found its own particular expression in Denmark.
A comprehensive body of principles and practises has slowly been built
up, largely through the work of the late Dane Niels
Bukh and other pioneers.
In Denmark gymnastics is primarily
performed in teams. The basic purpose is to exercise the body to
maintain and develop its flexibility and strength and to enjoy the good
influence a healthy body has on your mind. This is done through either
rhythmical exercises to music or through vaulting and tumbling. Among
the many activities offered by DGI, gymnastics is the most extensive
with approx. 300,000 gymnasts.The Danes join clubs in which they
generally meet once or twice a week during the 7-8 months winter season.
In the spring the training ends with a grand final performance in the
gymnasium or in the village hall. The main emphasis is community,
fellowship and the gathering together of people where gymnastics is the
In Denmark gymnastics is practised by
people of all ages, from children to the elderly. We can justly say that
gymnastics is a "lifestyle" for a large number of the Danes.
In addition to being active in a local
club, DGI's regional associations offer the gymnasts who would like
greater challenges the possibility of participating in selected regional
DGI offers its members more than
700 gymnastics related courses every year on a regional and national
level. About 17,000 gymnastics instructors have already received a
formal gymnastics education arranged by DGI. A characteristic of Danish
gymnastics instructors is that they are recruited at the age of 15 or 16
and undergo their education during their spare time.
DGI's Structural Organisation of
On a national level, gymnastics
within DGI is comprised of a long list of subcommittees, which report
back to the national gymnastics committee. In addition to this, there is
a gymnastics committee with subcommittees in the 25 regional
associations across Denmark.
Danish Gymnastics from an
Danish gymnastics teams have been
an inspiration for most of the world since the 1930's. It has, therefore,
become a tradition that several of DGI's gymnastics teams go abroad in
order to share the spirit of Danish gymnastics. The goal of these
journeys is also to make new friends across country borders and between
different cultures. These new friendships often result in international
exchange agreements between local and Danish gymnastics instructors. DGI
is very interested in further developing its international network - not
only in gymnastics, but also within other sports and cultural activities.
National Danish Gymnastics Team
National Danish Gymnastics Team
was formed in 1993 by DGI in order to promote awareness of the tradition
of Danish gymnastics abroad. Through workshops and performances, the
team members contribute to an understanding of both Danish culture and
DGI's work. The team consists of some of Denmark's best gymnasts. The
team has been touring all over the world, and has also accompanied Her
Majesty Queen Margrethe 11 of Denmark during her visit to South Africa.
Exchange Programme for gymnastics
In order to strengthen our
international relations, develop Danish Gymnastics and the particular
DGI philosophy abroad, DGI instructors have during many years been
visiting our global partners. The visit can be arranged from just a
short period to longer periods. We have a long lasting and solid
experience with exchanging Danish Gymnastics Instructors with our global
partners. As a part of an exchange program we would also like to include
a visit by a Danish gymnastics team. We also find it important that
instructors from our global partners visit Denmark.
International Sports and Culture
In order to find interested
co-operation partners in the world of sport and to help these
organisations by providing a wider range of choices, DGI has been very
active in establishing ISCA, International Sport and Culture Association
(formed in February 1995).
ISCA is an association with at present (October 2000) 91 member
organisations totalling some 20 million individual members from 44
According to the philosophy of both ISCA
and DGI, taking part in international exchanges and events should be a
possibility not just for a few stars from the world 6lite, but for
everybody - you should not have to qualify or pass tests for it! Whereas
some organisations tend to concentrate on the results of a few excellent
athletes, ISCA encourages the broadest possible participation in sports
and cultural activities and hopes to contribute to an understanding
between people across borders. In short, ISCA's objectives are primarily
sport for all, seeing sport in its broadest cultural sense.
The Tradition of Sports Festivals
DGI believes in the value of
people gathering together. Therefore, sports festivals are arranged
where many sports activities take place and diverse cultures meet. This
can be experienced at the large "Landsstaevne', which is arranged
by DGI and held every fourth year in Denmark. More than 45,000 athletes,
of whom 25,000 gymnasts came from more than 20 different countries,
participated in the national sports festival of 1998.
DGI's gymnastics committee arranges
several gymnastics events all over the country every year.
In addition to this, regional associations and local clubs arrange
regional and local sports and gymnastics events respectively. Such
extensive activity in DGI means that there are more than 100,000
gymnasts of all ages participating in DGI's sports festivals yearly.