Strengthening Sport for Development in Wales

By Richard Thomas, Wales Manager, Sported

Head and shoulders image of Richard Thomas, Wales Manager at SportedThe UK is the fifth largest economy in the world but has one of the highest levels of child poverty of all industrialised countries. Recent figures show that 1 in 3 children in Wales are living in poverty. That’s 200,000 children. There is widespread consensus that children and young people living in poverty and areas of high deprivation are more likely to attain fewer qualifications, have fewer life experiences, have lower aspirations and find it harder to gain employment.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you say! What have child poverty and deprivation levels got to do with sport you ask?


The power of sport to transform young lives and communities is now a well-recognised and effective method. You could call it a game changer! We define Sport for Development, or Sport for Change as it’s otherwise known, as ‘the intentional use of sport and/or physical activity as a tool to bring about positive change in the lives of individuals and communities.’


Right now, in sport, youth and community settings across Wales, there is an army of volunteer heroes and heroines delivering Sport for Development activities in disadvantaged communities. Chances are, you’re one of those amazing people, spending your evenings and weekends coaching and mentoring young people in the rugby clubs, boxing gyms and dance halls across the country. And if you’re not, I bet you know at least one person who is giving their time to make the future of children and young people in your communities that bit brighter!



Sport and recreation-based groups make up  over  22%  of  the  voluntary  sector  in Wales,  some  7,223  organisations  in  total (WCVA). The brilliant thing about Sport for Development is that it’s not confined to the sports sector.  At Sported, we see some of the most impactful Sport for Development activity taking place in local youth and community settings. Add all these together and the sector could be as large as 13,000 groups across Wales. Over one third of the voluntary sector, with the vast majority being hyper-local, volunteer led-groups, deeply embedded in their communities.


These groups are amazing at doing what they do best – transforming young lives and communities through sport. Recent research by Big Lottery Fund has found that third-sector organisations, such as those delivering Sport for Development activity, want support in specialist areas such as business planning strategy and finance. And that’s where Sported has a role to play. By supporting the local volunteers, club leaders and staff of the Sport for Development sector in Wales we are helping to transform the lives of thousands of disadvantaged young people, build stronger and safer communities, and save society millions of pounds.


We’re delighted to announce that Sported has been awarded funding froBig Lottery Fund logo featuring an image of a hand with two fingers crossedm Big Lottery Fund Wales’ Third Sector Skills Fund to strengthen the Sport for Development Sector in Wales. The aim of this programme is to strengthen grassroots  groups delivering sport in order to enhance the lives of disadvantaged young people. Over the next two years Sported will achieve this by offering intensive mentor support to group leaders  and  volunteers  over  a  sustained  period  of  time,  enabling  them  to  examine  and improve  a  variety  of  elements  of  organisational  health,  including  governance,  financial management, fundraising and volunteer recruitment and retention.


We  will  be focusing our  resources  in  eight  Local  Authority  areas  with  a  high  percentage  of  deprived communities (Caerphilly, Conwy,  Denbighshire,  Flintshire,  Gwynedd, Merthyr Tydfil,  Neath Port Talbot and Torfaen) with a view to strengthening the ‘ecosystem’, providing positive opportunities for young people through sport, working with 120 groups in total over two years.


Sported  has  a  strong  track  record  of  offering  mentor  support  to  small,  local  groups  in deprived areas, which face particular challenges. This project allows Sported to enhance our own capacity and direct our attention into new geographical areas.


The  programme  will  take  advantage  of  the  expertise  and  experience  of  existing  Sported volunteer  mentors,  as  well  as  recruiting  and  training  a  new  pool  of  volunteers  who  can support our members on an ongoing basis.


If you run a community sport or youth group in Caerphilly, Conwy,  Denbighshire,  Flintshire,  Gwynedd, Merthyr Tydfil,  Neath Port Talbot and Torfaen, and would like to benefit from the expertise of our volunteers, CLICK HERE to become a Sported member for FREE!


If you have a professional experience and would like to share your skills to help community groups in Wales, CLICK HERE to become a Sported volunteer!