Fostering Bottom-Up solutions in community sport

By Matt Shaw, Media & External Affairs Manager

What makes Sported’s members so effective at facilitating change in their local communities? Is it the sport, the people or the location? Or maybe it’s their affordability, local networks or facilities? Of course in reality, all these factors play a part to varying degrees, but one thing that underpins the effectiveness of our members is that their work is nearly always born out of a pressing need or problem in the local area. In other words they take a bottom-up approach. They identify social problems in their community and find ways of resolving them.


The principles of a bottom-up approach apply whether the group is tackling knife crime or creating sporting opportunities for under-represented groups. Firstly, they need to be able to identify the issues and secondly, understand the drivers behind them. It should come as no surprise then that the people best placed to do this are those that are close enough to the problem to see its symptoms, manifestations and effects. In other words, those living or with a close affinity to these areas or communities.


Many initiatives and policies in the past – both sporting and governmental – have failed exactly because they’ve been imposed from the top-down, with little consideration of the nuances which form the foundations of community life. As well as this, groups need to feel ownership of both the problem and solution in order to buy-into the work and deliver it with the required level of dedication and passion needed to make it a success. If there’re any doubts with regards to objectives, methodology or experience, then however well intentioned, a top-down programme will almost certainly be doomed to long-term failure.


Fostering the growth of bottom-up solutions in community sport requires its own unique approach. One that relies on empowering groups and helping them do what they do best. Just as these groups and clubs understand the needs of their own communities, time must be taken to understand their operational challenges.  At Sported we take pride in doing this through our on-the-ground team of dedicated regional and national field staff, who are able to draw upon their own local expertise, knowledge and networks to provide tailored services and support to our members.


Download symbol If you would like to find out more about how Sported’s members are responding to the local needs and challenges of their communities, please download the latest article in our Thought Leadership series ‘Bottom-Up Solutions’ by CLICKING HERE.