The long route to the summit.

Dedication and the ability to put in top performances are important qualities in today's society. In both a business and sporting context. Young sportsmen and women have to balance their work, schooling, training and family and friends as they attempt to get ahead in their vocational training, sporting life and social environment at the same time. Foundations and conditions that are tailored to young people are required if they are going to be able to cope with this major challenge.

Swiss Olympic has launched the label “Leistungssportfreundlicher Lehrbetrieb” (training enterprise conducive to competitive sport) in order to set such teaching facilities apart from the rest. DUSCHOLUX is also able to offer up-and-coming sporting talent this kind of education. Like Nadine Demierre, for example, who plays as a middle blocker for Volley Köniz and as an outside hitter for VBC Thun and is doing a commercial apprenticeship in sport to get her Swiss Certificate of Competence in commerce.

DUSCHOLUX: What is the format of this kind of apprenticeship and how does it differ from conventional apprenticeships?

NADINE DEMIERRE: The commercial apprenticeship in sport takes four years instead of three. The sports students have a shorter working week and they do not attend school as often. This leaves plenty of time for training and homework. The vocational school takes a tolerant approach. For example, if a student has a jam-packed sports programme at the weekend that leaves no time for homework, this can be discussed with the respective class teachers. If tests are missed, there is also the possibility of sitting them at a later time.

DUSCHOLUX: Why are these apprenticeships necessary?

NADINE DEMIERRE: Thanks to these flexible and needs-based apprenticeships, the athletes should be able to concentrate on their sports careers. At the same time, however, it should prepare them for a successful transition into the working world once their career has come to an end. The system also promotes young Swiss talent.

DUSCHOLUX: What does each party have to gain from an apprenticeship like this?

NADINE DEMIERRE: In addition to specialist skills, students also acquire methodological and social expertise and self-competence. In particular, they learn to work independently under pressure, to respond flexibly and to take on responsibility: all of which are key skills that are required for both vocational training and sport. These characteristics benefit both parties and the training enterprise also benefits from the fact that the student is with the company for four years instead of three.

DUSCHOLUX: What is the definition of professional sport in your opinion? That you can live off your earnings, or simply that you practice your sport at a professional level?

NADINE DEMIERRE: It always depends on the type of sport. It is far more difficult for volleyball players to earn money than it is for footballers or tennis players, as the number of fans who attend volleyball matches is far lower. The most important money source is the sponsors, not the prize money that can be won at tournaments. That being said, you have to be particularly good at your chosen sport if you are to find a sponsor in the first place.

DUSCHOLUX: We think that you are already very good! You have been selected for the Swiss volleyball perspective squad – the national talent squad for players with international potential. Congratulations! We hope that both your sporting and professional lives continue to bring you a lot of joy and success.