Each month ConnectSport works with the Sport for Development Coalition to create a monthly theme. During February 2020, we are focusing on the role of the Sport for Development Coalition (SFDC) with an article from its new Chair, the former MP Andy Reed OBE. Andy will also join us for a Twitter takeover on Tuesday 25th February (8-9pm) – email your questions on the SFDC to email@example.com and join us live on the evening at the hashtag #SportForDevelopmentCoalition.
In January, I was delighted to be appointed Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition. The SFDC is best described as a ‘movement’ – not a membership organisation – which has been around in various guises for most of the last decade.
What has changed the game for the SFDC over the last couple of years has been the recognition, support and funding provided by Sport England, Comic Relief and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
It feels like a great time to get involved; I am excited by what the movement can offer and really looking forward to the challenge. Having been fighting the corner for sport for 20 years in various roles, I will be using my skills and giving as much as I can to support the growth and success of the SFDC.
I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support since my appointment. I have tried to respond to as many as possible, but my role is voluntary and I will need to use my time sparingly and shrewdly to ensure I can demonstrate the collaborative leadership that I have been advocating for so long. Within this, I fully intend to use a proportion of my volunteering days to visit grassroots projects and meet the individuals of those lives that we, as a movement, are helping to change. I have always loved this side of sport.
With this renewed sense of focus and commitment, it’s important to remind ourselves that the SFDC has three simple aims which are advocacy, impact and investment. Considering each of these themes individually:
Advocacy – within Government, I pledge to use my knowledge and understanding to put us at the right tables and work with our partners Made by Sport (pictured below) to make the wider case for sport and physical activity to the public, and potential new individual and corporate funders.
Measuring impact – I strongly believe we need robust, reliable evidence that meets the needs of Government and the Treasury. Years ago I went into the Treasury ministerial team to understand how they work and impact all departments’ thinking and evidence and, in my new role with the SFDC, I have already begun working again with DCMS and Sport England officials on this. We can’t stop new entrants to the social value market but, as a collective voice, we do need to support an evidence base that stands up to Treasury scrutiny when making our case. I will be doing a lot more work on this over the coming months before this landscape becomes much more complex! Having said that, we also need the stories – it’s definitely not a case of ‘either/or’ but in fact ‘both’.
Investment – we will be looking for new sources, working with Made by Sport, other Government departments and looking again with DCMS at social impact models. But it will also be the role of our Coalition to be ‘investment ready’ and working out what that looks like.
Above all, I can’t emphasise enough the need for a collaborative model. I have no interest in building another 'empire' or a big team at our centre. It is essential that the SFDC remains lean and fleet of foot, and integrates into the landscape that already exists, so it can draw on and respond to the skills and knowledge from across the movement. A good example of this commitment to partnership will be our hosting arrangement with the Sport and Recreation Alliance, who will ‘house’ the SFDC – at least in the short term.
The SFDC itself has limited funds, and probably won’t have much more in the future. Our aim is to be the enabler, not the funder. The prize here is enormous and we want to help the sector unlock other money – not sit on our own funding.
Right now, we don’t have the expertise or capacity but hopefully, as we develop our digital presence, we will become a repository of the stories, the evidence and the sharing of best practice and – importantly – of where we have failed. I am a massive advocate for learning through failure and having a culture of acceptance of failure if we are taking risks on making new things work.
I look forward to working with you all, and invite you to join our Twitter takeover on Tuesday 25th February (8-9pm). Please send in your questions and recommendations for the SFDC to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will select a few to debate and discuss live on the evening. Hopefully this demonstrates from the outset our willingness to engage with, learn from and support organisations using Sport for Development across the country, with more exciting plans for engagement to be unveiled over the coming months.
Pic credit: Street League; Aberdeen FC Community Trust; Made by Sport.