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Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation

Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation

The United Kingdom is renowned for its love of sport. Millions of us play it, millions of us watch it, quite a few of us are better than anyone in the world at it, many heroic people volunteer a large chunk of their life to enable it and no-one is better at hosting international events than us. Recent years have been particularly successful. We have staged more than 70 major sporting events since London 2012 and had our best performances in a century at both the Winter and Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

More than a half a million extra people are playing sport regularly since 2010, and there have been gains in traditionally under-represented groups such as women, disabled people and people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds. The contribution of sport to the economy has grown to £39 billion annually. But complacency is just as much of an enemy to those that run sport as it is to an athlete. Government has a duty to ensure that absolutely everyone can benefit from the power of sport and more needs to be done not just to increase participation but to harness its awesome power to change people’s lives for the better. So this new strategy for sport and physical activity moves beyond merely looking at how many people take part. It will consider what people get out of participating and what more can be done to make a physically active life truly transformative. In the future, funding decisions will be made on the basis of the social good that sport and physical activity can deliver, not simply on the number of participants. We are redefining what success looks like in sport by concentrating on five key outcomes: physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, individual development, social and community development and economic development.

There are several demographic groups whose engagement in sport and physical activity is well below the national average. The benefit of engaging those groups that typically do little or no activity is immense. We will distribute funding to focus on those people who tend not to take part in sport, including women and girls, disabled people, those in lower socio-economic groups and older people. Because we want everyone to get the best possible experience of sport from the earliest possible age, we are broadening Sport England’s remit so that it becomes responsible for sport outside school from the age of five, rather than 14. A person’s attitude towards sport is often shaped by their experience – or lack of experience – as a child, and many people drop out of sport before they even reach the age of 14. Getting Sport England involved earlier will help to combat this.

This new approach requires a new system of measurement. We will transform how we measure success by replacing the Active People Survey with Active Lives. Through it we will measure how active people are overall – rather than how often they take part in any particular sport. A new set of key performance indicators will be used to test progress towards the five key outcomes and we will transform our understanding of how sport delivers them. Policy will also better reflect the value of broader engagement in sport, whether through volunteering, watching sport, or enjoying the shared feel-good factor and pride that comes from domestic and international sporting success.

We are reaffirming our commitment to Olympic and Paralympic success but also extending that ambition to non-Olympic sports where government will support success through grassroots investment in those sports, and by sharing UK Sport’s knowledge and expertise. Sport can be hugely undermined by poor governance and corruption, so we will establish a new, mandatory governance code that will be rigorously enforced at home and set a new standard internationally. It will help us to tackle doping, matchfixing and corruption wherever they occur in sport. As any athlete knows, success is only possible when a strong foundation has been put in place. We will therefore make the sport sector stronger and more resilient through changes in governance, developing the workforce, and reducing the reliance on public funding. We will also introduce a new ‘Duty of Care’ for all athletes and participants, because sport should be safe for and inclusive of everyone. We will also work to enhance the contribution of sport to the economy, we will establish a Sports Business Council to develop a new business strategy that helps support growth, improve access to finance and develop skills in the Sport Sector. If this new strategy is to work effectively, all parts of government must work more closely together towards clear, shared outcomes.

There is universal agreement across all Whitehall departments about this, and a shared commitment to delivering it. Sport is already central to life in this country. It enhances individuals and communities, boosts the economy, and supports a range of other policy priorities, including health, tackling crime and education. Yet in order to fulfil its potential, sport and physical activity needs to be about much more than mere numbers.

All of us need to fully comprehend how much of a positive difference it can make to people’s lives. In this strategy we set out a framework that will allow those who fund and deliver sport to focus on the social good it can deliver. Where that focus exists it should be rewarded. Where it is absent it should be enabled. We do not underestimate the scale of the change that is needed. But we can and we will win

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