Sport England has unveiled its new, 10-year strategy called 'Uniting the Movement', aimed at helping grassroots sport recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, improving inclusivity within sport and helping the country tackle obesity.
The strategy will run until 2031 and see an additional £50 million made available to grassroots sport in the short term as an addition to the £220 million invested by National Lottery and Exchequer funding since March 2020.
Sport England has said that it will look for where is best to target the additional funding, however, there will be an emphasis on supporting children and young adults to reignite their interest and passion for being involved with sports and activities once again, after schools and gyms have been closed across the country, limiting acitivity.
The longer-term strategy will see the organisation focus on three main areas, which are: advocating for physical activity, building on successful campaigns such as This Girl Can and Join the Movement; responding to the key issues which serve as barriers to physical activity in order to break them down; and ‘creating catalysts for change’, which involves supporting areas such as high-quality data, innovation and digital, as well as working with UK Sport to reform sport governance.
Another focus for Sport England as part of the Uniting the Movement strategy is to tackle inequalities that have existed in the sport sector and only reinforced by recent disruption. Data has indicated that those form lower socio-economic and BAME backgrounds have been impacted the most by the COVID-19 crisis.
"This strategy comes at a critical time,” said Tim Hollingsworth, CEO, Sport England.
“Alongside the National Lottery and government, we have made significant funding available, but many organisations are struggling, and activity levels have taken a significant hit. But amid all that challenge and uncertainty, we believe there are also enormous opportunities to fast-track the role sport and physical activity plays in helping people to live happier, healthier lives.
"With a short-term focus on helping sport to recover from the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, this strategy identifies the other major issues that for the next decade will be a priority. At the heart of all this is a ruthless focus on providing opportunities to people and communities that have traditionally been left behind, and helping to remove the barriers that stop them from playing sport and being active."
Nick Bitel, Chair, Sport England, added: "Sport England is determined that, led by this strategy which is the result of 18 months of in-depth consultation, we will unlock the advantages of sport and physical activity and truly make it a normal part of life for everyone in England, no matter what their background.
"It recognises the enormous challenges of the past year but seeks to make certain that we do everything possible to ensure that investment and resources reach the people and organisations who need it most so together we can change lives for the better right across the country."
Author: Jake Wilkin