Sport and active leisure managers must focus more on innovation, community and enterprise

Many people in the sport and active leisure sector (probably too many?) do not really know how to react to the increased pressures they are facing as they have to be more accountable and results driven, communicate differently with ever-more demanding customers and somehow respond/liaise with the many new sports deliverers from coaching agencies, NHS, community groups and social entrepreneurs. Too many just focus on ‘managing the facility’ and tend not to engage with community partners and agencies from Health, Education, Police, Housing etc. This becomes even more amazing when you then see what can be achieved when we become more relevant to people’s lives and we start speaking their language.

One the biggest challenges for sports development and facility managers is how to react (or even be pro-active) when it comes to changes in people’s lifestyles, technology, political landscape and economic climate. Too many people in the sport and active leisure sector somehow believe that the sector exists in a parallel world, relatively unconnected to people’s ‘real’ lives. This is probably why so many innovations in sport are coming from outside the ‘establishment.’

To grow participation and fill our facilities we must develop a new mindset and skillset which is much more focused on the ‘person’ and less on the ‘place.’ .

I am therefore proposing the launch of the ICE campaign: ICE stands for Innovation, Community and Enterprise and this campaign is designed to raise awareness of the importance of these issues in sport and active leisure. The campaign should address issues such as:
1. Help the sector to fully understand the needs of its community and help it demonstrate how it can achieve outcomes to address those needs
2. How to replicate things that work well from both within the sector but also from related sectors such as hospitality, entertainment and tourism and then share learning to help promote improvement
3. Learning a new language, understanding and new relationship in the dynamics of complex and challenging environments. Become capable of operating at a strategic level, integrating their work with their peers in Health, Education, Social Care, Housing Association and the Probation Service
4. How to develop and implement successful change programmes, which will really help drive things forward
5. What the sector can learn from the third sector delivering services in and for the community
6. Explore how within existing resources, innovation can enable identified needs to be met and deliver better value for money
7. How to radically transform service delivery using new facilities, providers and partnerships
8. Respond to commissioning opportunities by developing interventions for partners in the health, children services and adult care sectors by developing offerings they want to invest in.

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