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Opinion: The importance of implementing the government's Sporting Future strategy

Sporting Future prompted a wide ranging review of sports policy. Now it’s time for implementation

by Andy Reed | Published in Sports Management Oct 2016 issue 127
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue
Changes to funding will encourage sports bodies to create new partnerships / muszy / shutterstock
Changes to funding will encourage sports bodies to create new partnerships/ muszy / shutterstock

While sports fans were watching the events in Rio, many working in sports policy – myself included – were working to make sense of the details needed to deliver the government’s two reports, Sporting Future and Towards An Active Nation.

When my children ask what I did between Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, I’ll have to say I was doing sports policy reviews!

SEVEN REPORTS AND COUNTING
A flurry of detail will emerge over the coming weeks, as we see the publication of new Governance code details, as well as the volunteering strategy and the workforce strategy from CIMSPA.

And there’s more – my County Sports Partnerships review landed in the summer, while the Duty of Care Review, which is being led by Tanni Grey-Thompson, will be delivered soon. In addition, the School Games review and the School Swimming Reviews will soon be with various government ministers who will be preparing to act on their recommendations.

The government is due to report to parliament on its progress in relation to actioning Sporting Futures in January 2017 – a year on from its publication.

This is likely to be at the point when most follow-on details have only just emerged and little will have changed at the coal face in sport and physical activity, however, I expect the sector to move towards acting rather than reviewing in 2017.

This year, a great deal of time and effort has gone into assessing and realigning strategies and priorities. The extent of the changes outlined in Sporting Future means many people will have been taken out of their comfort zones, but hopefully they’re being forced to talk and create partnerships across and outside the sector.

BEYOND THE CORE MARKET
According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) the sector makes a £39bn contribution to the economy and employs over 400,000 people. So while the government and Sport England are important players, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are untouched by these changes in priorities. This particularly strikes me as I meet people who work in sport, but are not connected to the core markets we associate with our sector.

Importantly, the success of all these reviews and strategies will be measured in terms of their success in reversing the trend towards inactivity and its impact on society. It won’t be measured by who’s doing what and who’s doing it best and who’s shouting about it the most.

UNITED IN A COMMON CAUSE
The tide of inactivity is so overwhelming none of us can tackle it alone. We need to work smarter in collaboration with our sector, as well as creating new partnerships outside our comfort zone, in areas such as transport, housing, health and community.

So as the details are finalised, the period of reflection and planning will end and the new strategies will breathe life into every community up and down the country, trying to get a nation active.

Andy Reed is a former MP for Loughborough and the founder of Sports Think Tank.

www.sportsthinktank.com

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