As many of you will know, over the past couple of months we have been hosting a series of ‘Your Sported Network, Get Connected’ events up and down the UK. The events have been an unheralded success – new connections have been forged, challenges discussed and debated, and the sense that we are on the cusp of an exciting new era for the Sport for Development sector, well and truly reinforced!
Having 11 different regional/national events now under our belts, we wanted to share with you some of the findings from across the UK.
One question that we have posed to our members and mentors at each of our events is: ‘If you had to make the case for Sport for Development to one stakeholder group, what would your message be?’
One of the most telling things to come from this exercise was which target stakeholder group you chose to address. By far and above the most commonly chosen group was National Government, with nearly the combined total of the next two most popular groups – your Local Authority and Sport Councils/NGBs. Indeed, when you start to examine some of your responses to each of these stakeholders, clear themes begin to emerge. We’ve summarised these below, but will be providing a more detailed analysis of what you had to say in the near future.
Your messages to…National Government
Unsurprisingly, your messages are dominated by funding or, more specifically, the lack of it. Amongst Sported members there’s the overwhelming sentiment that community sport and Sport for Development is under-valued and under-resourced by those in power. Typically messages include…
“Sport is an amazing tool for integrating young people from the community. Funding needs to be made a priority in order to engage these young people before they become marginalised, rather than spending more money in the long-term dealing with related ASB/crime and health issues.”
and…‘What would you do if we weren’t here? What would you replace us with?’
There were also calls for government departments to take a more joined-up, collaborative approach to developing a national sports strategy.
Your messages to…your Local Authority
It’s clear that spending cuts by Local Authorities have hit the community sport sector hard. The closure of local facilities and failure to invest is putting our members under increasing pressure. Despite austerity measures, there is a clear call from Sported members to Local Authorities to trust and support existing local community groups that are having an impact, and to make it easier for them to continue their work by accessing underutilised facilities.
‘Trust organisations to know what is required at grassroots’
‘Support multi-agency work’
‘Value quality over quantity’
Your messages to…Sport Councils/NGBs
Repeated messages to increase funding and investment, once again highlights the most pressing concern amongst community sport groups. But what really stood out were the repeated calls for Sport Councils and NGBs to become more closely aligned to the needs of the grassroots.
Independently crafted messages including…
‘Come and view grassroots sports, it is different to how you view and understand it’
‘Proactively seek two way communication!’
‘Be led from the grassroots up to shape policy’
‘Sport clubs have a wider impact than simply the participants’
…eludes to a communication gap between those governing sport and those delivering it.
We’d love to hear what you think. To continue the debate or respond to any of the issues outlined above, please login to Your Sported Network and add your comments to Your Forum.