Joining a sport "Verein" (club) is a great way to get acquainted with Germany. And it is not just for those with a knack for soccer.
Germany is a country that loves its sports. It is currently the reigning world champion in men's soccer and won the second highest number of medals in this year's Winter Olympics. But for those who are not quite ready to compete on the international stage, and want to meet some new neighbors, there is the local sports club, better known as a Verein.
According to the German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB) there are nearly 90,000 sports clubs with more than 27 million members. The German Soccer Association (DFB) boasts more than 6.8 million members and over 25,000 clubs. That means more than one-third of Germans play sports with a Verein under the DOSB and/or DFB.
Vereine offer anyone young or old the opportunity to play sports with and against one another. Vereine are not just limited to soccer and Olympic sports, however. There are Vereine for hiking, dancing, and even faustball (a sport similar to volleyball).
Vereine can be found in every town big or small. They usually require members to pay a small monthly fee to join the club, but it is one of the easiest ways to find new people and locals to connect with. It is also a cheap way to get children involved in sport, with swimming clubs, for example, offering significantly discounted lessons compared with swimming lessons offered by locals pools.
Special programs for refugees
There are some Vereine that are special tailored for migrants and refugees new to Germany. The DOSB started the "Integration through sport" program in 1989 and now the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) sponsors the program to help migrants and refugees participate more in local life. Local migration services for adults (MBE) and young newcomers (JMD) are able to provide more information on such programs.
The DFB has also put programs in place specifically for new migrants and refugees. They provide ways for both adults and children to get involved.