Voluntary Sports Societies of the Soviet Union

Voluntary Sports Societies of the Soviet Union

Voluntary Sports Societies (VSS) of the USSR ( _ru. Добровольные спортивные общества (ДСО) СССР) were the main structural parts of the universal sports and physical education system, that existed in the USSR between 1935 and 1991, together with Dinamo and Armed Forces sports societies. VSS united working people and students going in for sports, physical culture, hiking, mountaineering and boating. Their goals were to develop mass physical culture and sports and to provide facilities and conditions for sports training and improvement in athletes' skills. Most of the VSS were governed by the Trade Unions, 25 million athletes were members of such societies in 1970.

One of the most important features of VSS were Children and Youth Sport Schools ( _ru. Детско-юношеские спортивные школы, ДЮСШ), which numbered 1,350 in the 1970s and 7,500 in 1987. There were also specialized sport clubs, groups of improvement athletes' skills, etc. More than 50,000 trainers and instructors worked there.


The first society, VSS Spartak, was created in 1935. Between 1936 and 1938 VSS of the Trade Unions were established throughout the country. Athletes from factory schools and vocational schools were united into VSS Trudovye Rezervy in 1943. The formation of the kernel of the system was finished in the 1950s, when village VSS were established in Soviet republics.


The main structural units of VSS were physical culture collectives by the enterprises, public-service institutions, collective farms (kolkhoz), State farms (sovkhoz), educational institutions, etc. These collectives were primary organizations of VSS and numbered 114 thousands (including 105 thousands under Trade Unions), united into 36 VSS (29 of them were Trade Unions' ones) as of 1971. There were six All-Union VSS ( _ru. Всесоюзное добровольное спортивное общество, ВДСО); 15 republican VSS, uniting physical culture collectives of industrial enterprises; 15 republican village VSS.

The best physical culture collectives were awarded the title Sport Club.

All-Union VSS

Reorganization in the 1980s

In 1982 the Presidium of the VTsSPS reorganized 33 Trade Unions' VSS. None were abolished, just governing organization of most of them was changed from VTsSPS to another one. Eight largest Trade Unions' VSS remained under VTsSPS leadership: Burevestnik, Vodnik, Zenit, Lokomotiv, Spartak, Trud, Urozhai, FiS ( _ru. ФиС - физкультура и спорт; English:physical culture and sports). On January 1, 1983 these eight VSS united 48.365 million members. [cite book|title=Yearbook of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.|publisher=Sovetskaya Enciklopediya|pages=p.17|year=1983|location=Moscow|language=Russian] VSS, that did not belong to Trade Unions, were not reorganized.

In February 1987 republican and village VSS were abolished. On the basis of eight Trade Unions' VSS, one All-Union Trade Unions Physical Culture and Sports Society ( _ru. Всесоюзное добровольное физкультурно-спортивное общество профсоюзов, ВДФСО профсоюзов) was created.

Governing body and its functions

Governing body of Trade Unions' VSS was the All-Union Council of Trade Unions' VSS ( _ru. Всесоюзный совет ДСО профсоюзов), established and governed by VTsSPS since 1957.

Council's main activities were:
*to hold competitions between VSS, Spartakiads of Trade Unions, to arrange physical culture holidays
*to support the participation of VSS in All-Union and international competitions
*to control functioning of Children and Youth Sport Schools and other institutions
*to lead construction of sports facilities
*to award the best physical culture collectives the title Sport Club
*to maintain relations with foreign workers' and students' sports unions

Under the Council federations of various sports disciplines, Coach Councils, Judging Boards were functioning.

Financing, facilities and symbols

VSS were financed mostly by the Trade Unions (e.g. 355 million roubles in 1970). There were a lot of sports facilities constructed throughout the country using this means by 1970: 2,490 stadiums, 59,000 football grounds, 14,400 complex sports grounds, 10,200 artistic gymnastics halls, 950 artificial swimming pools, 270,000 grounds for sport games.

Each VSS had its own flag, emblem, sports uniform, pin. Societies, which were awarded orders (e.g. VSS Spartak - Order of Lenin) had their images on the flag and other symbols.

VSS at the Olympics

The most represented VSS at the Olympics usually were Spartak, Burevestnik, Trud, Zenit, Avangard. For example, from 409 competitors for the USSR at the 1976 Summer Olympics 58 were from Spartak, 48 from Burevestnik, 28 from Trud, 13 from Zenit and 11 from Avangard.

ee also



*cite book|title=Great Soviet Encyclopedia.|publisher=Sovetskaya Enciklopediya |edition = 3rd ed.|pages = vol. 8, p. 372|year=1972|location=Moscow|language=Russian
*cite book|title=All about Olympic Games.|author=Boris Khavin|publisher=Fizkultura i sport|edition = 2nd ed.|year=1979|location=Moscow|language=Russian

External links

* [http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/su@.html Sport flags of the Soviet Union]
*ru icon [http://www.vexillography.narod.ru/USSRspor.htm Sport Flags of the USSR]
*ru icon [http://www.spartak70.ru/history/1935-1940 History of VSS Spartak]

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