In this blog Tim Hollingsworth, the Chief Executive of Sport England, writes about the Sport for Development Coalition and the recent announcement of new funding to support the growth of its work. Tim also kindly participated in a live Twitter takeover at the hashtag #SportForDevelopmentCoalition - check out the highlights here.
These are truly unprecedented times for us all, but as we continue to deal with new challenges, and adapt our immediate work to current circumstances, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of where we are working to get to.
We know that being active can significantly improve both physical and mental wellbeing, and as the first changes to lockdown allow many of us to enjoy more physical activity, we must continue to enable this as far as is possible within the guidelines.
However, we must keep front-of-mind, and readily plan for, the role that the sector will play in bringing communities back together as we emerge from the continuing restrictions.
Nowhere is this truer than across the sport for development branch of the sport and physical activity sector, and I am delighted that Sport England will continue to support the Sport for Development Coalition with new National Lottery funding. Sport for development, and the health and social value that sport and activity can provide, has never been more important.
In tandem with Comic Relief and Laureus Sport for Good, Sport England has supported the Coalition since 2018. I’ve hugely welcomed the work that they have led to convene those operating in this space, bringing organisations big and small together to collaborate and democratise an important part of the sector.
With the coronavirus pandemic causing such significant disruption to sport and physical activity, the Coalition’s mission to unlock more resources for community sport organisations is going to be essential to our collective recovery from Covid-19. Their aim is to create a movement, galvanising those working in sport for development around shared outcomes and keeping people, place and purpose at the heart of it all; I could not be more supportive.
StreetGames’ Doorstep Sport programme to deliver sport in less affluent communities; Dame Kelly Homes Trust’s transformational mentoring for disadvantaged young people; Street League’s work to tackle youth unemployment: just three examples of countless programmes that have all proven invaluable to the communities they support.
I’m excited too by the ambition to grow the network to at least 400 organisations over the next four years. As we look ahead to how we might emerge from this period, the value of working in partnership to deliver community-focused, place-based activities cannot be understated.
This has real synergy with how we are seeking to work at Sport England, living our values and striving to be increasingly collaborative, innovative, inclusive and ambitious.
There won’t always be easy answers to the challenges that we are presented with, but doing things differently is a necessary part of our collective future, and we must continue to celebrate the phenomenal work that is being delivered as we battle through these difficult times.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else can. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair.”
Nelson Mandela’s famous statement about the power of sport is one of the most frequently referenced in this space, but it remains timeless, and is particularly relevant this year.
Sport really does have the power to change the world. Now more than ever, it has the power to unite people, and together, perhaps we can create some hope where other sentiments have prevailed in recent weeks.
No small feat, but together I believe we can do just that.
Read more about Sport England's response to the pandemic at sportengland.org.