Are you #JustSport or are you #MoreThanSport?

Successful providers of sport and physical activity play a bigger role in people’s lives and in the communities they serve. They are more than just a leisure centre or a sports club. They see people as more than players, they see them in a holistic light.

They see the community as a partner. They link up with schools, youth clubs, housing associations and the health sector and work with those bodies and attract players and funding while doing good in their community.

They attract and retain skilled and passionate volunteers from across the community. People with strong social networks and with specific skills are happy to become involved as volunteers on a ‘bite-sized’ basis because they want to be part of something good, without having to commit themselves to attend hour-long committee meetings.

They attract and retain skilled and passionate volunteers from across the community. People with strong social networks and with specific skills are happy to become involved as volunteers on a ‘bite-sized’ basis because they want to be part of something good, without having to commit themselves to attend hour-long committee meetings.

That way they attract many hard-to-reach and inactive groups and become more sustainable.

If it really is that simple to get more people active and for sport to deliver social good and change how come that so few sports bodies are actually going this route? And at the same time, many of the sport for change bodies seem almost uninterested in engaging with the traditional sports world.

Having worked with community sports and physical activity bodies across the UK and Denmark, from small sports clubs to our major sports organisations, I have first-hand experienced how even the smallest club can benefit in all sorts of ways, simply be taking on a broader role in people’s lives and by engaging with its community

Two great examples are Tynemouth Cricket Club and The Pavillion Sports and Cafe in Haringey

There are two governing bodies which have really embraced the #MoreThanSport mindset, Cricket Scotland and England Golf:

For the last two years, we have been working Cricket Scotland on their Thriving Clubs programme where we have helped some of their clubs to realise their potential and grow the number of players and their community engagement.

One of those clubs is Westquarter and Redding Cricket Club, Falkirk.

The committee is transforming the future of the club, which is sited on old farmland into a model for other for other clubs to follow.

The committee invested money into turning an old farmhouse on the land into a children’s nursery which will provide an income for the next 25 years in partnership with Glenbervie Kindergarden which also invested in the project and has the lease.

The 107-year-old club, which plays in the Saturday East Division 2 league, also rents space to an archery club and is looking to become a community interest company to offer more services to the local community.

With the club’s finances now stable they are growing their numbers through their strong involvement with local schools and the community (almost 40% of girls who play cricket in Forth Valley do so at the club) and their recent Family Day which attracted 135 visitors was sponsored by the local Tesco Extra and talks are now afoot of running car park cricket sessions at Tesco.

The club is now converted into a Community Interest Company (CIC) with the view to the club becoming a Community Hub. The launch presentation of this project is due to be hosted at Tesco Extra.

Based on the innovation and enterprise demonstrated by Westquarter and Redding CC Cricket Scotland will in March be running a conference #MoreThanCricketHow cricket and cricket clubs can grow in Scotland. An event focusing on how Scotland’s cricket clubs can play a bigger role in people’s lives and become hubs for their communities.

A couple of months ago England Golf launched an initiative to stimulate and encourage innovation and enterprise across the sport: #MoreThanGolf. SMN was brought into work with England Golf on developing the project.

Since then a number of strands have been developed to help golf in England to grow and become more engaged with the communities around the 1900 golf clubs across England. A board-led project group is considering these projects two of which could include:

Golf and Your Health

A large number of research studies have demonstrated that golf can be a very successful moderate aerobic physical activity. The UK general population is getting older as is the membership of golf clubs, which creates both challenges and opportunities.

This project will support the already work already happening within golf to engage with current, lapsed and potential members by providing services which cater better for their social and medical needs, in partnership with local health agencies, dedicated charities and social enterprises. This will enable them to brand themselves a “Healthy Golf Club”.

One of the current projects sees The Stroke Association working in partnership with Cheshire Golf Association getting stroke-sufferers into, or back into, golf, with the resulting health and social benefits.

Golf for Social Good

There are already a number of programs where golf engages with local communities, either through some of the more progressive clubs or through social enterprises, such as Community Golf, who deliver a diverse range of golf activation programmes.

Valleys Golf in South Wales is a social enterprise which delivers golf coaching, education and training with the objective of unlocking and realising the full potential of the communities in which they work.

In their England Golf Awards 2017, the governing body is acknowledging, for the first time, a club with a particularly strong community engagement. The Strongest Community Engagement winner will be the club with `Community Engagement` at its heart. It involves people and groups from all parts of the local community to grow the game and promote its own long-term sustainability. The #MoreThanGolf project also includes a conference, Grow Golf, aimed at people with an interest in innovation and enterprise in golf. The event includes case-studies, workshops with business advice and ‘Dragons Den’ type event where people can pitch ideas – all learning about and discussing how best to create innovation and enterprise in golf #MoreThanGolf.

Creating #MoreThanSport is not rocket- science, but it does require a change in mindset, which is not always the easiest. Want to learn more about how you can go down this route? Just get in touch.

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