Join the #GetYourKitOn campaign for a fair review for grassroots sports

by Alison Oliver, Youth Sport Trust's Chief Executive
The sports sector is under intense scrutiny at present, not least in the international media, as a result of doping scandals and corruption within trusted institutions. In a Government review currently underway sport faces a potential change to its future direction - but this is one judgement in which we can all play a part in building a positive future. 

As part of the Chancellor’s Spending Review, Secretaries of State have been required to model their departmental budgets based on potential cuts of 25 per cent and 40 per cent. The determination of what each department will be left with, after their contribution to the £20bn of saving, will be published on 25 November. Throughout the sports sector there is concern that significant budget reductions for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport could result in a significant cuts to investment particularly at the grassroots level.  Cuts to other department’s budgets may deepen the impact on sporting provision around the country – be that local authority provision, charity and voluntary engagement, or education and health institutions.

At the Youth Sport Trust we believe in the role and contribution of National Governing Bodies of sport (NGBs) and their community club, coach and volunteer structures.  Over the past 20 years that we have been working in youth sport, NGBs have contributed significantly to both provision and innovation.  Local clubs provide essential pathways for young people to be inspired and engaged through school sport.  They offer an environment in which children and young people can develop safely as participants, players and people; their competition structures allow young people to perform on a regular basis and for those with ambition and desire, the opportunity to progress. In their great pool of volunteers, there are also inspirational role models who play a crucial role in retaining young people in sport and mentoring the next generation.

In order to demonstrate to Government, ahead of the Spending Review, the value of community sport and physical activity, and the work of the NGBs to sustain and develop it, we are supporting the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s campaign #GetYourKitOn. To spread the word about the campaign the Sport and Recreation Alliance is asking people to share pictures of themselves in their sports kit with the #GetYourKitOn hashtag.

We’ve also been doing our part for grassroots sports by offering our expert views and insight through the Government consultation for a new strategy for sport. In the Youth Sport Trust response, we called for a joined-up Government approach underpinned by the value of sport to the health, wellbeing, education. We’ve advocated that the new strategy supports interventions that inspire fundamental and unchanging attitudes towards sport and physical activity from early in life, to naturalise high levels of activity and inspire regular participation throughout life. We believe the new strategy should also support schools and the NGBs to promote pathways and opportunities for lifelong engagement, extending from early years provision through school and community sport to both elite performance and lifelong physical activity.

To bring about these changes the Youth Sport Trust is calling for the strategy to reposition PE, physical activity and school sport to be an integral part of the education journey. Indeed, the Sport and Recreation Alliance commissioned a public survey, as part of the #GetYourKitOn campaign, which found that 86 per cent of those asked believe that Physical Education and sport play a vital part in the education of children. Additionally, 74 per cent agreed that PE and sport should have a similar importance to literacy and numeracy on the school curriculum.

Developing our schools so they are equipped to present this pathway requires an overhaul of the provision of PE, sport and physical activity, and the Coach Education system, to ensure the development of a modern workforce that is able to lead and deliver relevant and meaningful activity to young people at all ages.

Underpinning our response to the Government’s consultation is the belief that young people's participation should be the essential foundation on which all other outcomes are built and that PE, physical activity and school sport must deliver three things for all young people:

  • physical literacy to ensure young people are confident movers;
  • instil a love of sport based on a broad experience of participation, leading and volunteering in traditional and non-traditional sports; and,
  • ensure an understanding of the value of physical activity and sport throughout life.

If you’d like to read more about our response please visit our website news page where it has been published.

The time is right to make the kind of positive changes to the role of PE, sport and physical activity that can maximise its relevance in the modern world. That means protecting the opportunities offered to young people to be active in a broad experience of traditional and non-traditional sports, and the investment in community sport that makes this possible.

To show your support for #GetYourKitOn or to learn more about the campaign please visit: www.getyourkiton.team.

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