Our Insight

Sported's research and insight provides an authoritative look into the environment surrounding community sport, grassroots sport and community groups - with data and knowledge from our team that informs decision-making and the support we offer.

Insights: The role of kit in community sports

Key words: kit, boots, cost of living, affordability

What role do sports and physical activity has for the self-confidence and self-esteem of children and young people?

This sport looks into the impact that financial barriers  surrounding kit may have on participation in sports/physical activities – with an understanding of support community groups need with solutions to mitigate the barriers and prevent negative impacts of lack of kit.

This research project was commissioned by Cif, one of the UK’s much-loved household cleaning brands. The aim is to provide insights for its Re-Kicks campaign, a nationwide initiative that is collecting second-hand, unused football boots and re-distributing them to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across the UK.

Community Pulse: October 2023

Key words: sport for development, cost of living, disengaged from sport

The research once again underlines their critical importance in deploying sport and physical activity to actively transform their lives and address societal issues with locally-driven solutions.

But it also highlights how cost of living rises are putting significant pressures on these clubs and organisations with a sector that is often excluded from traditional funding streams, relying instead on backing from charities like ourselves.

And the insight underlines how squeezes in disposable income are threatening to freeze out young people from this difference-making source of help with evidence already of significant disengagement and reductions in participation, exacerbating the financial jeopardy in play within grassroots sport.

Community Pulse, May 2023

Key words: cost of living, facilities, survey

Cost of living pressures, including elevated energy, facility and insurance costs, are putting the future of many grassroots sports clubs at risk – and threatening to freeze young people out of participation, the spring 2023 edition of the Sported / Ring Community Pulse survey found.

It found that over nine in ten were “extremely or fairly concerned” about the impact of increased costs on their operations.

49 per cent say they have been hit by a significant rise in energy bills over the past six months, 48% are coping with increases in other utility bills, and 41% with a reduction in financial support.

With 51% of the clubs and organisations responding operating in the 30% most deprived areas of the country – and most run and operated by volunteers – the current challenges in play threaten the infrastructure that gives young people an opportunity to be active and to address many of society’s pressing issues such as mental health and crime prevention.

Kids trampolining

Insight report: Cost of Living crisis

Key words: cost of living, facilities, survey

In light of the cost-of-living crisis, we asked our members about the financial challenges around their access to facilities and how they are responding.

 Our members reported rising facility costs over the past six months, and predicted further increases in the next six months. In response to these increasing costs, our groups are already looking for additional funding, subsiding sessions, and – worryingly – using their existing financial reserves.

Facing additional cost increases in the next six months, our members said they may have to increase costs for their participants in the future. This is especially troubling, as a significant proportion of groups told us up to half their young people already struggle to afford taking part.

Boxing ring image

Community Pulse, October 2022

cost of livingKey words: community groups, survey, COVID-19

Our biannual survey telling us how community sports groups in the Sported network are feeling and experiencing. 

We asked about a range of issues including the impact of cost of living pressures on organisations and clubs.

Insight and Research into Sport for Development
Downloadable Reports from Made by Sport

Community Pulse, April 2022

Key words: community groups, survey, COVID-19

Our biannual survey telling us how community sports groups in the Sported network are feeling and experiencing. 

The major concerns that groups and group leaders are experiencing are connected to the cost of living and challenges connected to the mental health of young people. 

Groups also highlighted that they are most comfortable with tackling inequalities around women and girls in grassroots sport, and least in tackling issues relating to the LGBTQ+ community.


Understanding the motivations, opportunities, and capabilities of young people from lower socioeconomic groups and diverse ethnic communities to take part in cycling, January 2022

Key words: cycling, focus groups, interviews, young people

This research created with British Cycling highlights that barriers including concerns around cost, access to equipment and lack of diverse role models are preventing some young people from participating in cycling activity.
Through focus groups and surveys with young people and group leaders of groups from the Sported network, the findings will help shape British Cycling’s work to engage the next generation in cycling.
Abraham Moss 3

Key words: community groups, facilities, community assets

Sported’s latest Community Facilities thought leadership report, reveals that groups not having access to facilities has delivery, resilience and funding implications. The knock-on effect of this situation is that the inequalities that exist between groups without secured facilities and groups who do have their own facilities (or the funds to block book long-term slots) worsen.

This research was carried out through desk research and in-depth interviews with 12 group leaders from the Sported network.

Facilities stock image (1)

Key words: community groups, young people, interviews 

This research aimed to capture the views of young people (with lived experience of disadvantage) from across our Sported network in Wales, to share their experiences, understand what is important to them and establish how they and help shape
the provision of sport and healthy activities in their community.

Primary research was conducted through the completion
of eight in-depth interviews with community group leaders (face to face and virtually). The outcomes of these interviews helped shape the foundations of the questions used within the ten youth focus groups (nine face to face, one virtual). 97 young people from across Wales participated in ten focus groups, they were from a range of age groups, ethnicities, economic and social backgrounds, and mental and physical health needs. Community groups’ main sport and physical activities were wide-ranging, from football to mixed martial arts, boxing to wheelchair rugby, through to community centers and multi-sports environments 

A group of young people with their hands in the middle

Key words: community groups, mental health

As part of our Time in Mind project,  23 pilot projects trialled different approaches to supporting young people’s mental health in their communities. The objective was to identify those elements of the projects that might usefully inform a model of good practice for other community groups interested in developing mental health support structures. This report also proposes a potential model of good practice based on this learning for consideration and use by the sector.

Time In MInd_Square (2)

Key words: COVID 19, community groups, survival, support needs, adaptability, survey

Our regular Community Pulse survey was carried out in October 2021 with responses from 437 Sported members from across the UK. 

The results showed that as groups continue to adapt, far fewer young people are attending their sports groups since the Covid-19 pandemic started. In addition, fewer young people have returned to groups located in areas of high deprivation than elsewhere. 

The results also uncovered that groups are struggling to find places to carry out their group’s activities since re-opening, but more groups are extremely confident their organisations will survive the next 6 months.

Coleraine RDA31

Key words: Women and girls, survey

Funded by the London Charitable Trust, Sported utilised a third party organisation, Childwise, to conduct a 22-question survey with a range of young girls across the UK. Survey distribution focussed on targeting girls from lower socioeconomic status  areas and those from diverse ethnic communities, with an aim to gather a range of experiences and views and resulted in 434 responses. 

Key findings reveal that 43% of those from diverse ethnic communities reported being ‘much less’ or ‘somewhat less’ physically active compared to pre-pandemic, compared to just 26% of white respondents, and that almost 30% of all respondents referenced their periods as a barrier to participation. 

The research uncovers other bahaviours and attitudes to sport and PE in and out of school, barriers to participation and the differences in target groups.


Key words: community groups, Northern Ireland, support, NGBs

We asked Sported members in Northern Ireland questions via an online questionnaire about where they accessed support. Out of the 47 responses, 28% were not affiliated with an NGB and only 39% knew where to find support. The report highlights the limited support available to support groups to become more sustainable.

The research calls for a sector-wide approach to measure, build and grow sustainability to all Northern Ireland clubs, and should include both affiliated and non-affiliated clubs.


Key words: COVID 19, community groups, survival, support needs, adaptability, survey, longitudinal

Sported launched a series of surveys and focus groups to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on community sports groups. Over 900 responses were completed along with focus groups with 18 community sports groups. The findings reported that groups experienced 3 key phases during the restrictions: Emergency, Refocus and New Normal. On the back of this research, Sported calls for more essential support for community sport groups as they face new challenges surrounding financial support, re-engaging their young participants and support with mental health for the group and young people.

Credit Dave Poultney / The Times

Key words: COVID 19, community groups, survival, support needs, adaptability, survey

Between January and February 2021, Sported asked members to complete an online survey to highlight their concerns about the future of their organisation and the type of support they needed going forward. With 160 responses, our members highlighted their worries surrounding finance and funding, as well as engaging their young participants after such a long time apart.


Does grant funding exclude those it is designed to help?
January 2021

From first-hand accounts of Sported members in England, this report explores the hypothesis that grant funding is designed in such a way that excludes the groups it is aimed at, with a focus on grant funding for reducing inequalities for ‘less well-off’ participants and BAME participants.  


Impact of Covid-19,
December 2020

Key words: COVID-19, challenges, needs and solutions, focus group, qualitative research

In December 2020 we conducted the third round of focus group consultations as part of our 3-part series, exploring the needs and challenges of community sport groups during the pandemic. Our research, which enabled us to hear directly from members operating in England and Scotland, highlights the impact on young peoples’ mental health, as well as how the situation is affecting groups’ current operations and plans for the future.


Tackling racism at the grassroots,
October 2020

Key words: Grassroots, racism, equality, research community groups, survival, support needs, adaptability, survey

Black, Asian and minority ethnic people working or volunteering in community sport can feel “patronised and poorly represented” within the grassroots and community sport sector, according to new research published by Sported.


Impact of COVID-19, UK, July 2020

Key words: COVID-19, challenges, needs and solutions, focus groups, qualitative research

In this second round of our 3-part series, seven of our members in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland shared their needs and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research highlighted two new challenges, Planning and Education, calling for solutions to include better support and the ability to know key dates from reopening.  


Implications of Covid-19 lockdown on long term recovery of Sported members who deliver activities for young disabled people in England,
May 2020

Key words: Grassroots, COVID-19

Using survey data from a ‘Community Pulse’ online survey and more in-depth feedback from 16 groups who provide sport or physical activity for disabled participants, Sported identify seven areas in which our member’s are concerned.

Project 21

Impact of COVID-19, UK, May 2020

Key words: COVID-19, challenges, needs and solutions, focus groups, qualitative research

Supported by a highly skilled Sported volunteer, in May 2020 Sported conducted focus group consultations, to explore our findings from ‘Community Pulse’ in more detail. The nine participating groups were based across the UK and used a range of sports to help young people overcome challenges. The consultation explored the impact COVID-19 has had on their participants. It went on to identify challenges and solutions for community group’s in response to COVID-19, reflect on how COVID-19 has changed how they view their organisations, as well as gather feedback for Sported and the wider community sport sector.  


Community Pulse during Covid-19 Lockdown, UK, June 2020

Key words: COVID 19, community groups, survival, support needs, adaptability, survey

Between March and June 2020 Sported conducted almost 800 consultation surveys with community groups in our network, to explore how they were coping regarding COVID-19. Surveys were conducted online and by-phone. In the initial ‘emergency’ phase, groups main concerns were managing finances and reaching vulnerable people. As things developed, groups wanted support adapting to virtual delivery and in getting back to physical delivery. Groups were also remarkably adaptable, directly supporting vulnerable people and protecting them from COVID-19.


An evaluation of the impacts and challenges of community sport groups becoming more inclusive and accessible for girls, UK, April 2020

Key words: women and girls, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, research

Authored by Dr Lucy Piggott and Professor Elizabeth Pike from University of Hertfordshire, this research looks at whether being inclusive of society’s under-represented groups is helpful in becoming an effective and sustainable community sport organisation.


Young people’s voices, Wales, 2019

Key words: Wales, young people, community groups, motivations, local challenges, focus groups, interviews

Towards the end of 2019 we conducted a consultation with young people in Wales. Paired interviews and focus groups were conducted in small groups; participants ranged between age ten and 20. The consultation explored challenges they face in their local area, motivations for joining a youth group and what makes a youth group more successful.  


In Sport we Trust, UK, October 2019

Key words: national data, community sport, sports club membership, trust, social cohesion, Lower Socio-economic groups, demographics, multi-variate analysisK

In-depth piece looking at the impact of community sport groups on young people, community development and social cohesion. Being part of a sports club or group increased young people’s levels of trust. In addition, this relationship (between sports club membership and trust) is stronger for people from LSEG groups compared to HSEG Groups.


Project 51, England and Scotland, 2019

Key words: Community groups, Sport for Development Outcomes, locally driven, distributional analysis, chi-squared test

Groups received support from Sported and Women in Sport in engaging young girls in sport and physical activity. Research of young girls (11-18) identified a reduction in gendered views; shift from girls thinking certain roles (e.g. ‘washing kit’, ‘umpire/referee’ ‘being a boss’) are gendered to ‘men and women equally’ able. Also identified higher aspirations (achieving goals, working hard etc.) and more positive perceptions of themselves.

Girls Unite 2

Bottom Up Solutions, UK, 2019

Key words: community groups, Women and girls, gender bias, gender roles, barriers for young girls

Sported conducted a short internal piece to explore trends in our membership in terms of social outcomes they address. Groups that use boxing (and those based in Y&H, EM & NW) more likely to address crime and anti-social behaviour. Groups that use cricket (and those based in NI) more likely to address community cohesion. Groups in Scotland more likely to address health and well-being. Implies groups respond to local need, and that certain activities more suitable for addressing certain outcomes.


Why Groups Dissolve, UK, 2019

Key words: thought leadership series, community sport, survival, resources, Index of Multiple Deprivation, distributional analysis

Sported conducted a short internal piece to explore whether certain characteristics of community groups mean they are more likely to dissolve (comparing existing Sported members with dissolved members.) Identified risk factors (of dissolving) are being in bottom 10% IMD areas, having income lower than £5k, having fewer staff and volunteers. 


Capacity Building in Community Sport: Underappreciated but essential, UK, September 2018

Key words: thought leadership series, organisational capacity, sustainability

54% of people are concerned that their community sports club would struggle to stay running over the long-term, without support from external organisations. In this short report, we discuss the importance of building organisational capacity to improve the strength and sustainability of the community sport system.

Boxing 4 Life in Leytonston, provides boxing and fitness training for young kids to young adults. The comunity project is supported by Sporteducate and Deutsche Bank
Date: 16 May 2017
Photograph by Amit Lennon

Reducing Youth Violence: The role of community sport, UK, August 2018

Key words: thought leadership series, crime and ASB

Drawing on the insight and experience of Sported’s members, this short report aimed to highlight the importance of community groups in reducing youth violence and promote further support to sustain this vital work.


Sporteducate, London, 2017

Key words: education, attainment, Sport for Development

Programme designed to help young people (10 -18) from disadvantaged backgrounds, through education, sport and mentoring, to stay in school, training or employment. The evaluation found an improvement in the 6 outcomes; 1. Attitude to learning 2. Attendance at school, college, training or work 3. Aptitude and employment 4. Academic achievement 5. Aspirations for the future 6. Self-esteem & con­fidence.

Boxing 4 Life in Leytonston, provides boxing and fitness training for young kids to young adults. The comunity project is supported by Sporteducate and Deutsche Bank
Date: 16 May 2017
Photograph by Amit Lennon

Bridging the Gap: A Blueprint for Engagement, England, April 2017

Key works: engagement, low socio-economic areas, community sport structures

Sport England partnered with us in 2015 on a 2-year action research project that aimed to draw out some of the lessons we’ve learnt from supporting groups in operating in high levels of deprivation, summarise useful tips on how to work effectively in these neighbourhoods, and share them with agencies and organisations wishing to make a greater contribution using the power of sport and activity.


Sportworks, UK, 2013

Key words: community sport, Social Return on Investment, cost saving, Substance

Sported commissioned social research specialists Substance to deliver a comprehensive piece of research, creating the business case for investing in sports for development work for disadvantaged young people in the UK. In response to Sported’s requirements, a new approach was been developed that represented the first ever attempt to assess the impact and value of the sport for development sector as a whole.


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