Should we leave the delivery of sport and active leisure to the community?

An increasing number of really good and innovative work in delivering sport and active recreation is now been delivered by social and comm entrepreneurs. They discover a need, engage with partners and possible customers, deal with all the obstacles (from planning to funding) and somehow they get it off the ground. Their innovative and entrepreneurial approach helps them to overcome the obstacles and deliver great sporting experiences.

Many of these entrepreneurs report of the lack of support and sometimes almost obstacles being put in the way by ‘the establishment’ if what they do not fit in with some policy decided centrally.

Just ask the people at Adrenaline Alley in Corby, probably Britain’s most successful urban sports facility (run from a former chicken factory) or Keighley Table Tennis Centre which is located on a floor of a former textile mill. Yes, now they are successful they are getting a lot of interest, but you ask them about the hurdles they had to go through to when they started out…

Also, there does not seem to be anywhere where these people can go and ask for advice and support. They seem to be sitting somewhere between sports development, social enterprise and community services and therefore seem to be left to their own devices. One part of Britain where they can get dedicated support is in Yorkshire where SMN are accredited by Business Link to deliver social enterprise and Leadership and Management support to sports deliverers that want to develop. But, as far as we know this is the only part of the country where such a programme exists.

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