For years ‘sports for sport’s sake’ has been the mantra for many (too many) sports administrators. The thinking was that somehow funding would arrive out of the blue, new players and coaches would turn up, regardless of their personal circumstances and how their communities were developing. This was also reflected in the training available to clubs which was primarily about ‘equity’ and child protection. Nothing wrong with that per se but this also influenced the way local authorities and governing bodies ‘ran’ their sports.
As a consequence too many clubs have become ‘grant addicts’ who are now finding it very difficult to adapt to a new world of ‘demanding customers’, demands for instant communication and serious competition from a myriad of sports providers from commercial coaching agencies to community centres.
Yes, I am extremely busy helping clubs, NGBs and LAs introduce more enterprise understanding and capacity. However I can’t help feeling sometimes that very few people in the top of ‘the establishment’ are actually ‘getting it’ that the world has changed and that it will keep changing – we need a ‘movement for welcoming and enterprising sport’.
I am off to give advice to a local authority on how they can transform their leisure facilities into social enterprises – it’s all happening out there.