Inspire Wales Increasing Participation in Sport
Inspire Wales Increasing Participation in Sport
2 Recommendations 1. A Plaid Cymru government would conduct comprehensive research into reasons for participating in, taking-up and dropping out of sport for adults and children from different socio-economic groups and with different protected characteristics. This should inform an evidence-driven approach to policy. 2. In terms of infrastructure, a Plaid Cymru government would focus on how sport and leisure facilities are delivered rather than investing in expensive sporting facilities. We would consider an approach similar to Ireland’s Local Sports Partnerships with regional sports bodies responsible for planning, measuring, encouraging and delivering sport and leisure services at a regional level, linked with Local Authorities.
They could foster links between National Governing Bodies, Local Authorities, schools, sport clubs and leisure centres to ensure every community has relevant sport and leisure facilities to meet their needs.
3. We would consult with interested parties in order to place a statutory responsibility on Local Authorities to deliver sport and leisure facilities, working with regional sports bodies and sports clubs. 4. We would consult with interested parties in order to place a requirement on schools to open their facilities to communities out of school hours. 5. We would consult with interested parties with the intention of establishing a right to access wellbeing facilities such as cycle routes, leisure facilities, green spaces, school facilities and sports clubs for disabled as well as non-disabled people.
We would consider developing a wellbeing oyster card – valid across Wales – across Local Authorities enabling the use of facilities. We would also consider developing online wellbeing profiles for people to set their own targets for sport and physical exercise and measure their progress.
6. Following guidelines from the Welsh Government and Sport Wales we would place a requirement on schools through the National Curriculum following the Donaldson review to ensure a varied programme of two hours a week of high quality PE, in consultation with pupils regarding the content. 7. We would develop and deliver an Inspire Wales programme with elite sportspeople trained in public speaking and visiting schools, leisure centres, sports clubs and community centres to discuss their personal and professional experiences and inspiring others to take part. Such visits should be conducted out of school hours and parents and the wider community encouraged to take part as well as children.
We would ensure that people from different socio-economic groups and groups with different protected characteristics are represented.
8. Linked to the Inspire Wales programme, mentoring and coaching programmes would be delivered by regional sports bodies, including programmes in which families can take part together. 9. Support would be offered to sports clubs setting-up from scratch with Sport Wales and regional sports bodies developing and offering training and support on how to set-up and run a sports club and how to access funding streams.
3 1. Introduction Wales has often been described as punching above its weight in terms of sports. Welsh athletes achieved a record medal haul in the London 2012 Olympic Games and we hope to repeat that performance in Scotland’s 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Success in elite sport is often viewed as an end in itself but it is also often thought of in the context of inspiring people to participate in sport on a personal level. Increasing sport participation and physical activity levels in the general population in turn is linked to improvements in health and wellbeing.
This paper examines the link between elite sporting success and participation in sport at a grassroots and personal level. As well as improving health and wellbeing, raising participation levels in grassroots sports may in turn increase the pool of talented sportspeople taking part in elite-level sports in future. It also looks at whether Wales has the necessary infrastructure to deliver sport and leisure facilities and how the current infrastructure could be developed to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing. 2. The current situation in Wales When the Welsh Government’s Action Plan for increasing participation in sport and physical activity was published by the One Wales Government in 2009, it said that it has been estimated that the cost of physical inactivity to Wales is about £650 million a year.
This is due to the health risks posed by physical inactivity and the health benefits brought about through taking part in physical activity: “Regular physical activity has many benefits to health, including mental health and well- being. People who are physically active have up to a 50% reduced risk of developing the major chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers and a 20- 30% reduced risk of premature death.”1 Sport Wales is responsible for developing and promoting sport and physical activity both on a grassroots participation and elite level in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government.
Sport Wales’s vision is of “uniting a proud sporting nation”. It aims to get “every child hooked on sport for life” and to develop “a nation of champions.” Sport Wales collects data on sport participation. The two main surveys are the “school sport survey” and the “active adults survey.” a) The School Sport Survey The school sports survey2 is carried out biannually. It canvasses the opinions of 110,000 schoolchildren from almost 1,000 schools in Wales. The most recent survey took place in 2013. The survey measures whether children participate in sport, how often they participate, where they participate and their attitudes towards sport.
It looks at sport participation both inside and outside the school gates and children’s attitudes towards PE lessons as well as extracurricular sport.
1 Welsh Assembly Government, Creating an Active Wales, December 2009 2 Sport Wales, School Sport Survey 2013, October 2013
4 The survey found that boys were more likely than girls to regularly participate in sport and that both boys’ and girls’ participation decreases with age but that this fall in participation is more marked in girls. Children from more economically deprived areas are also less likely than those from more advantaged areas to regularly participate in sport and disabled children participate less than able-bodied children. Sport Wales’ definition of being “hooked on sport” is to participate three or more times a week.
The survey shows the following headline figures for this measurement: 44 per cent of boys and 36 per cent of girls are hooked on sport. There is an 11 per cent gap between the least economically deprived schools and the most economically deprived schools in terms of pupils being hooked on sport. 10 per cent fewer pupils with a disability are hooked on sport than pupils without a disability.
In terms of PE lessons in schools the survey found that the average weekly minutes allocated for PE is 101. This is lower than the two hours a week recommended by the Welsh Government. 53 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls agree that PE lessons and school sport help them have a healthy lifestyle. However, while 65 per cent of boys always feel comfortable in taking part in PE and school sport, only 48 per cent of girls do so. Primary school girls are also more likely than secondary school girls to feel comfortable taking part in school sport ‘always’ - this is true for 57 per cent of girls in years 3-6 but only 41 per cent of girls in years 7-11.
As well as feeling less comfortable in taking part in PE lessons than boys and younger girls, older girls also participate less in extracurricular sport. When asked whether they took part in extracurricular sport in the last year, 78 per cent of primary school girls had done so but only 69 per cent of secondary school girls. 80 per cent of boys but only 74 per cent of girls reported taking part in sport at a club outside of school. In examining children and young people’s attitudes and feelings towards extracurricular sports, the survey found that 52 per cent of boys and fewer than half the surveyed girls (41 per cent) feel safe when taking part in sport outside of school.
It also found that more boys than girls reported having freedom from parents to decide what they do with their free time all the time (46 per cent of boys and 38 per cent of girls.) Children and young people were asked what motivates them to take part in sport and what would motivate them to do more sport. Boys and girls often reported the same reasons for taking part in sport. Of those who reported taking part in sport: 93 per cent of boys and 91 per cent of girls take part because it’s fun. 44 per cent of boys and girls take part in sport with their friends. 41 per cent of boys and 42 per cent of girls enjoy the competition.
Girls (66 per cent) were more likely than boys (57 per cent) to take part to keep fit. When asked what would motivate them to do more sport: More girls (20 per cent) than boys (11 per cent) said they would do more sport if they were better at sport.
5 More girls (41 per cent) than boys (25 per cent) said they would do more sport if their friends went with them. The survey also measures the types of activities that children and young people take part in. Some sports had very high participation rates from a particular gender: 43 per cent of girls took part in dance. 71 per cent of boys took part in football. 39 per cent of girls took part in netball. 50 per cent of boys took part in rugby. Others had a more equal gender balance: 28 per cent of boys and 25 per cent of girls took part in athletics. 32 per cent of boys and 29 per cent of girls took part in cycling.
28 per cent of boys and 29 per cent of girls took part in rounders/ baseball / softball. 45 per cent of boys and 51 per cent of girls took part in swimming. Sport Wales’ findings regarding children and young people’s participation in sport point towards what groups should be targeted to increase participation. Secondary school aged girls, disabled children and children from disadvantaged areas are less likely than younger girls, boys, able-bodied children and more advantaged children to participate in sport. The data on attitudes towards sport and motivation to take part is not broken down in terms of ethnicity, social class or disability.
The data on boys’ and girls’ attitudes and motivations poses a challenge to male/female stereotypes with girls who participate being as likely as boys to say that they enjoy the competition. It also shows that girls feel less comfortable taking part in PE lessons as they get older. These issues will be discussed further later in this paper.
b) Active Adults Survey The most recent active adults survey3 was conducted in 2012, and consisted of 13,145 interviews at randomly selected addresses across all Welsh Local Authorities. Participants were asked about regular participation in sport; any participation in the last four weeks; sports club membership and volunteering in sport, including coaching. Data are broken down for the following characteristics: age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, socio-economic group and Welsh speakers.
The headline figures show: 39 per cent of the adult population are hooked on sport compared with 29 per cent in 2008/09.
Males are more likely to be hooked on sport – 46 per cent in comparison with 32 per cent for females. 70 per cent of adults participated in sport or physical recreation in the 4 weeks prior to interview. 3 Sport Wales, Active Adults 2012 the State of the Nation, May 2014
6 40 per cent of the adult population (35 per cent male, 46 per cent female) do no frequent activity (they do not participate in sport for at least an average of once a week). 27 per cent of adults are members of a sports club – 34 per cent of males and 20 per cent of females. 10 per cent of adults volunteered in sport in the previous 12 months. 10 per cent of adults in Wales had undertaken coaching in the last 12 months. Differences in levels of participation were found for different age ranges and different social groups.
Older people are less likely than younger people to be hooked on sport.
56 per cent of 18-25 year olds reported taking part in sport three or more times a week. This drops to 32 per cent of 55-64 year olds and 21 per cent of people aged 65 and over. The gender gap in adults who are hooked on sport narrows with age. The proportion of adults who are hooked on sport increases with the size of household income, from 29 per cent in the £5,200 to £10,399 range to 54 per cent of those with household incomes of £52,000 or more. This is also the case for participation in sport with 89 per cent of adults with an income of £52,000 or taking part in sport, compared with 54 per cent of those with an income of £5,200 - £10,399.
There is little data available on the participation levels of different ethnic groups. According to Sport Wales this is due to the small sample size. The available data show that 39 per cent of the white population and 37 per cent of the Asian/Asian British population are hooked on sport. Adults who do not have a long-term illness or disability are more likely to take part in sport and to do so more often than those who do have a long-term illness or disability. 29 per cent of adults with a disability are hooked on sport compared with 45 per cent of adults with no disability. 79 per cent of adults with no health condition or disability took part in sport in the previous four weeks, compared with 57 per cent of adults with a disability or health condition.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual people are more likely to participate in and to be hooked on sport than heterosexual people. 39 per cent of the heterosexual population are hooked on sport, compared with 49 per cent of the gay and lesbian population. 70 per cent of heterosexual adults take part in sport, compared with 80 per cent of gay and lesbian adults. Welsh speakers (46 per cent) are more likely than non-Welsh speakers (37 per cent) to be hooked on sport. They are also more likely to take part in sport with 79 per cent of adults who speak Welsh active in sport compared with 68 per cent of adults who don’t speak Welsh.
Welsh speakers are also more likely to volunteer with 11 per cent of Welsh speakers having volunteered in sport in the previous 12 months compared with 7 per cent of non-Welsh speakers.
The proportion of adults who are members of sports clubs has increased to 27 per cent from 16 per cent in 2008/09. In general, membership decreases with age: 39 per cent of 15-24 year olds reported being members of sports clubs compared with 17 per cent of those aged 65 years and over. The percentage of club membership ranges from 16 per cent of adults with
7 incomes of £5,200 - £10,399 to 44 per cent of adults with a household income of £52,000 or more. The survey also looked at the most popular sports in terms of sports clubs membership. Those were found to be: exercise machines, weight training / weight lifting and swimming.
For men the most popular sports are weight training / weight lifting (9%), football (9%) and exercise machines (7%). For women, the most popular sports are exercise machines (10%), swimming (9%) and fitness classes (9%).
10 per cent of the adults surveyed had volunteered in sport in the previous 12 months, an increase of 5 per cent from 2008/09. Almost half of sports volunteers volunteered on a weekly basis. 12 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women reported having volunteered in sport. 10 per cent of adults in Wales had undertaken coaching in the last 12 months in a voluntary capacity, as part of a job or for payment. 13 per cent of men and 6 per cent of women had undertaken coaching. Similarly to the data on children and young people, the data on adults’ participation in sport show that women, adults on lower incomes and adults with disabilities participate less.
Participation also generally decreases with age but this is less the case for women than for men. It is interesting to note that Welsh speakers are more likely than non-Welsh speakers to participate in sport, be hooked on sport and to volunteer in sport. It is also interesting that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are more likely to participate in sport. Reasons behind the different levels of participation for different groups of people are likely to be complex and may involve structural barriers such as cost, availability and accessibility as well as attitudes and motivation. These issues will be explored further.
3. Sport policy and initiatives a) Aims The Welsh Government set its “long-term strategic vision” for sport and physical activity in its 2005 Climbing Higher policy paper: “An active, healthy and inclusive Wales, where sport, physical activity and active recreation provide a common platform for participation, fun and achievement, which binds communities and the nation and where the outstanding environment of Wales is used sustainably to enhance confidence in ourselves.”4 It further set out its “physical activity action plan” in Creating an Active Wales in 2009, for a Wales where: Everybody benefits from the feel good factor of being physically active.
Physical activity opportunities are accessible to all. Being active is the norm.
Activity is at the centre of the school ethos and physical literacy is as important as numeracy and language. All children play frequently outdoors in safe environments. The majority of children and adults regularly use leisure facilities and sports clubs. People use their local environment for active recreation. 4 Welsh Government, Climbing Higher, 2005
8 Active travel is the first choice for short distances for both children and adults. Individuals are never too old to be active. Creating an Active Wales set two high-level targets for increasing physical activity levels: “The focus of the targets will be to get everybody to do ‘one day more’…The one day more target can only be achieved by increasing the activity levels of people who do little or no exercise as well as of those already doing 3 or 4 days a week.”5 The target for adults is to shift the average point of activity from 2.4 to 3.4 by 2020.
The target for children is to shift the average point of activity for 11 to 16 year olds from 3.9 to 4.9 by 2020.
The plan also sets out the Welsh Government’s priorities for achieving its vision and aims. In order to make it easier and safer for people to be physically active, its priorities are: the accessibility and safety of the built environment; developing infrastructure to facilitate walking and cycling and improving access to green spaces. To support children and young people to live active lives, the Welsh Government prioritises: access to high quality play opportunities; opportunities for families to take part in physical activity together, particularly low income families; community schools; consulting with children and young people to ensure interventions meet their needs; developing physical literacy and increasing participation in physical activity by the least active; and increasing physical activity in post-16 educational settings.
To “encourage more adults to be more active, more often, throughout life,” the Welsh Government wants: an increase in green exercise such as walking, cycling, conservation and gardening; community-based targeted interventions that encourage behaviour change and remove barriers to participation; workplace approaches such as active travel; and opportunities for women, older people and disadvantaged people. To increase “participation in sport, by all sectors of the population,” the Welsh Government wants to see: action to combat the reduction in participation in secondary school children and adults; stronger sporting infrastructure to enable clubs to attract and retain a wider range of members especially in areas where physical activity levels are low; clubs providing high quality coaching, developing the skills and activity levels of their members, supporting talent development and providing a range of competitive and non-competitive opportunities for participation; maximising of the legacy opportunities of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Ryder Cup and other major events to increase participation in sport.
The Welsh Government’s approach emphasises the use of existing facilities such as schools and sports clubs rather than building new facilities. Use of the outdoors environment should be facilitated and both adults and children should be enabled to develop their sporting and physical literacy skills. There is an emphasis on participating in sport and physical activity for its own sake rather than for the purpose of competing. As will be further examined, resources for delivering sports and leisure facilities are likely to be cut rather than increased over the next few years. This approach, if well-delivered, should therefore be a more effective way of spending scarce resources than investing heavily in expensive facilities.
The question is whether the necessary infrastructure is in place to deliver this action plan. 5 Creating an Active Wales
9 The Welsh Government set up a Task and Finish Group on Schools and Physical Activity chaired by Tanni Grey-Thompson. The Group published its report in June 2013. Its recommendation is for Physical Education to become a core subject in the National Curriculum. Its reasons for recommending this are: teachers would be required to be competent to deliver the subject on completion of their initial teacher training; well qualified, specialist teachers would be needed to work with schools to ensure high-quality provision; standards and provision in physical education would be rigorously reviewed in school; and progress would be regularly measured.
This recommendation will be considered as part of the Welsh Government’s forthcoming review of the National Curriculum. As demonstrated by the statistics from Sport Wales’ school sports survey, many older girls drop out of extracurricular sport participation and many feel uncomfortable taking part in PE lessons. When asked about motivational factors, many said they would participate more if they were better at sport. All children and young people would benefit from improved physical literacy skills and learning these skills at an early age may improve children and young people’s confidence to take part in sport as they get older.
PE in schools certainly needs to be improved and it needs to be ensured that schools offer the two hours a week recommended by Sport Wales and the Welsh Government. Many children and young people only take part in sport through PE lessons and these lessons give them a lasting impression of sport and physical activity. Schools need to work with pupils on developing and delivering a range of sporting opportunities that appeal to them.
Sport Wales also sets targets for both elite and grassroots sports. In its Elite Sport Strategy6 it states that its two measures of success are: Wales position, on a per capita basis on the medal table at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The number of Welsh athletes competing and winning medals for Great Britain at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The following target was set for the Olympic Games: Welsh athletes to win a total of six Olympic medals across the 2012 and 2016, Games, with a stretch target of ten Olympic medals.
This target has been surpassed with Welsh athletes winning seven Olympic medals in the 2012 games.
It set the following targets for the Paralympic Games: Welsh athletes to win a total of thirty Paralympic medals across the 2012 and 2016 Games, with a stretch target of forty Paralympic medals. With Wales aspiring to be the leading contributor of GB Paralympic medals on a per capita basis. Welsh athletes won a total of fourteen medals at the 2012 Paralympics. Sport Wales has also set the following targets for participation on a grassroots level: 6 Sport Wales, Elite Sport Strategy 2010-2016
10 Children and young people of school age: 3 occasions per week, provided within extracurricular and wider community settings. Adults: 3 sport sessions per week. Volunteering: 10% of the Welsh population As seen from the data from the schools sport and active adults surveys, Sport Wales’ target for volunteering has been met. To reach its targets for participation, 56 per cent more boys and 64 per cent more girls would need to take part in sport three times a week than currently do so. 54 per cent of men and 68 per cent of women would need to do so. The Welsh Government’s target to raise the average level of participation seeks to increase the participation levels of those with sedentary lifestyles as well as those who already take part in sport.
It may not be realistic to expect adults and children who lead sedentary lifestyles to immediately take part in physical activity three or more times a week. It therefore seems sensible to aim to ensure that as many adults and children as possible take part in sport at least once a week and then increase that level of participation.
In terms of elite sporting success raising participation levels in grassroots sport, statistics six months after the 2012 Olympic Games did show increases in levels of participation for a number of sports in Wales including: 25 per cent increase in gymnastics. An increase in 32 per cent of hockey clubs. 39 per cent increase in swimming. 24 per cent increase in cycling. 33 per dent increase in boxing. 12 per cent increase in athletics. It remains to be seen whether the 2012 games will have a lasting effect on participation. Sport Wales set five key priorities for grassroots sports in its Community Sport Strategy 2012-20207: Thriving clubs.
Local decisions. Quality education. Committed workforce. Appropriate facilities. Sport Wales’ intentions for achieving thriving clubs include: supporting clubs to broaden their membership and sporting offer; encouraging clubs to amalgamate; encourage multiple teams ideally with adult and junior sections; sports coming together to develop multi-sport clubs; prioritise the recruitment, retention and support of volunteers; create an environment that welcomes a diverse membership; embrace technology as a means of recruiting and retaining membership; National Governing Bodies and Local Authorities jointly supporting club growth.
It will measure its success through: increase in the number of multi-sport clubs; increase in the number of junior sections; increase in the number of recreational and informal leagues; 7 Sport Wales, Community Sport Strategy 2012-2020
11 increase in the number of participants from disadvantaged and hard to reach groups; leisure facilities increasing the number of local clubs that support and use their facilities. To improve local decision-making it set out: work to identify what the community needs basing decision-making on evidence and demand; more sports decentralising their structures; focus on the development of sport at a local level; seek the views of a diverse range of people to provide an offer capable of appealing to girls, women, people living in poverty and hard to reach groups.
It will measure its success through: strong regional and area sport structures; local people, involved in decision making; local sport offer reflecting local demand. In terms of education it wants to see: children’s skills developed through a multi-skills approach; headteachers valuing the importance of PE; promote the impact of sport on young people’s development; pupils having a say in how sport is structured and delivered in schools; fun and enjoyable PE for all pupils; engagement with the Further and Higher Education sectors to boost sport’s workforce; enable young, talented pupils to reach their full potential by signposting them to appropriate opportunities and avenues for further support; clear communication and promotion on links with local clubs and leisure centres.
It will measure its success through: highly motivated and skilled children; two hours of high quality PE to every young person each week; a broad range of opportunities at school for young people to take part in three hours of school and/or community sport; physical literacy awarded the same status as literacy and numeracy; development of competencies to measure the quality of PE offered; more schools opening up their facilities after hours to allow for community use; increase in the number of school, Further Education and Higher Education links in the delivery of sport; every teacher trained to deliver high quality PE.
In terms of a committed workforce it wants to: develop the skills of existing and potential sports leaders; reflect society within leadership with a positive drive to develop women, disabled and BME individuals in sport; coaches delivering child-centred opportunities; develop leadership opportunities within all sports clubs throughout Wales; support the development of sports administration at regional, local and club level; strengthen the sector’s approach to succession planning and continuing professional development. Success will be measured through: doubling the number of coaches and volunteers; a skilled and passionate workforce; greater diversity on boards, committees and in leadership positions; all leisure centre staff accessing training to deliver sports development programmes; workforce plans to define what is required, where people are to be sought and how they are to be developed and deployed; a culture of performance management, where people are challenged and supported to raise their game.
Securing appropriate facilities will be done through: driven by needs at regional and local levels; long term planning, covering indoor and outdoor facilities and considering sustainable transport solutions; Local Authorities and sports working together on facility use; dialogue between potential partners as new facilities are being considered; provision based on community need; question current use of school facilities; maximise opportunities for communities to take ownership of local sports facilities; Sport Wales to play a role as a central information point on new developments; help ensure that relevant organisations are aware of potential facility developments.
12 Success will be measured through: every leisure centre and school sport facility linking with local clubs to maximise use; programming that caters for the needs of hard to reach groups; genuine collaboration between Local Authority departments and relevant National Governing Bodies or area associations, private enterprises and key voluntary groups. Sport Wales’ aims and priorities focus on community involvement in developing grassroots sport. In the context of potential future cuts to facilities and resources, there is an emphasis on collaboration between National Governing Bodies, Local Authorities and others to ensure that communities have the sporting opportunities and facilities they need.
As will be further set out in this paper, if the Welsh Government and Sport Wales’ visions, aims and priorities for sport participation are to be achieved, the necessary infrastructure needs to be in place to provide sport facilities and deliver sport interventions.
Sport Wales also has a Child Poverty Strategy 2012-2015. It contains the following long- term outcomes: To see an increase in participation amongst children and young people living in poverty, contributing to our wider aspiration of all children and young people being hooked on sport for life. To see an increase in volunteering amongst adults in lower social grades, contributing to our target of getting 10% of the adult population in Wales volunteering in sport by 2016. For sport to be considered a key partner in the effort to tackle poverty in Wales, with poverty and participation targets being shared across partners.
Sport could play a valuable role in tackling poverty both through developing young people’s skills and through improving their health and wellbeing. Work needs to be done with disadvantaged children and young people to find out what would enable and motivate them to take part in sport and to deliver what they need.
b) Sport interventions Many of the Welsh Government’s sport policy interventions are targeted at young people. They include the free swimming scheme for children and young people aged 16 and under during all school holidays and at the weekend. This scheme is also available for older people aged 60 and over outside school holidays. The Welsh Government invests £3.5 million a year in the free swimming scheme. Sport Wales’ 5x60 programme aims to increase the number of secondary age pupils taking part in sport or physical activity for 60 minutes, at least five times a week. It receives £4.9m in funding from the Welsh Government.
The scheme aims to complement existing sport and physical education provision in schools. Pupils choose the activities themselves including: competitive sport; informal activities, such as dance and aerobics; coached activities; and outdoor activities.
Sport Wales also runs a Young Ambassadors Scheme which “aims to empower and inspire young people to become role models and leaders through sport, by developing their confidence and skills in order to increase physical participation in others.” Young Ambassadors are active in all 22 Welsh Local Authorities, and in 2013/14 there were nearly 2,500 Young Ambassadors.
13 There are also annual sporting competitions for young people and for disabled people. The Wheelchair Sports Spectacular is an annual two day event that attracts over 450 disabled participants of all ages to take part in around twenty sports.
Gemau Cymru is a bilingual multi-sport event for young athletes in Wales run by the Urdd. Athletes are invited to compete in Gemau Cymru following a selection process advised by the national governing bodies. Activities include: athletics, canoeing, gymnastics, netball, rugby 7s, table tennis and triathlon.
Another investment made by the Welsh Government is in coaching. This is one of Sport Wales’ priority areas. The Welsh Government invests £1.4m each year for the development of coaching through 'More Coaches Better Coaches.’ Sport Wales8 aims to have: 10% of the Welsh adult population actively involved in coaching and volunteering in sport. All coaches qualified to a level appropriate for his or her role. Every newly qualified coach deployed and active in delivering coaching sessions. All coaches in Wales valued with access to opportunities to develop their coaching skills.
Sport Wales explains the link between coaching and grassroots sports as being sustaining participation in sport: “We want a culture whereby coaching and volunteering in sport is commonplace and therefore a system is needed whereby people are inspired, proactively encouraged and supported throughout their journey.
At the core of this is the role of our local communities; this is where sport happens and local sports clubs and organisations have a pivotal role in recruiting, supporting and nurturing coaches.”9 It cites the examples of Sweden and Finland as an inspiration. It states: “Both countries report high levels of regular sports participation (72%) alongside the highest levels of coaching and volunteering in Europe, with 18% of their adult population actively involved in coaching and volunteering in sport.”10 Sport Wales aims to invest £5 million a year in coaching. £2.2 million on elite sports, ‘a nation of champions’ and £2.8 million is to be spent on grassroots sports, ‘every child hooked on sport for life.’ There is an emphasis on encouraging and increasing the participation of young people in the Welsh Government and Sport Wales’ current sport interventions.
There are also some interventions aimed at older people and disabled people. Targeted interventions for older people, people from ethnic minority communities and people from poorer socio-economic groups may also be beneficial, based on working with such groups to determine what the barriers are to participating in sports and what would encourage them to take part in sport or to increase their participation. Again, it needs to be ensured that the necessary infrastructure is in place to deliver these interventions.
4. Barriers to participation 8 Sport Wales, Coaching Strategy 2010-16 9 Ibid 10 Ibid
14 Barriers to participation in sport may be structural, such as lack of affordability and accessibility; social; cultural and behavioural. One important point is the need to survey adults and children with different protected characteristics and demographics about their attitudes towards sport and their reasons for taking part or not taking part in sport and physical activities. The National Assembly for Wales’ Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee published a report on participation levels in sport in March 2014.11 When the Committee started its inquiry the Welsh Government had reported a ‘worrying decline’ in sport participation for all age groups.
Also of concern were the cuts faced by local authorities over the next few years and the fact that non-statutory services such as sport and leisure servicers are in danger of being substantially cut.
Two of the Committee’s recommendations concern the lack of data on ‘how deprivation, demographics, protected characteristics and cultural barriers impact on participation levels.’ It recommends finding alternative ways to collect more data on the participation levels of ethnic minority communities and reviewing the methodology of Sport Wales’ surveys. The lack of data on different groups of people makes it difficult to determine what the barriers to taking part in sport are. As noted above, detailed information is provided through the schools sport survey on girls’ and boys’ participation, their attitudes and motivation, but very little information is provided on the attitudes and motivation of other groups such as pupils from ethnic minorities; gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils; pupils with disabilities and disadvantaged pupils.
This information would inform policy on how to overcome barriers to participation. Information on what motivates adults from different socio-demographic groups and on their attitudes towards sport would also be useful. Other recommendations concern increasing the participation levels of girls and ethnic minority communities in sport. These include: addressing the lack of PE teachers from ethnic minorities in Wales; the barriers to sport participation faced by people from ethnic minority communities and encouraging girls to participate in sport. There are recommendations to assess the impacts of reductions in Local Authorities’ budgets on the affordability and accessibility of sport and leisure facilities and to look at opportunities to increase and improve access to leisure facilities.
There are also recommendations to review the free swimming scheme to identify areas where take-up is low and to publish an action plan on increasing the number of children under the age of 11 who can swim.
When giving evidence to the Committee about attitudes towards sport, Sport Wales said that three challenges need to be overcome: a lack of knowledge about what is available where; a lack of understanding or skills to participate in activities and access to appropriate equipment. It also highlighted the importance of schools in forming children’s lifelong attitudes towards sport: 11 National Assembly for Wales, Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee, Participation Levels in Sport, March 2014
15 “The first experience of sport is absolutely crucial for planting the seeds for a lifelong participation and schools are absolutely central to this”.12 Sport Wales believes that children need to be provided with the necessary skills to participate in sport and that the delivery of sport in schools needs to be inclusive.
This corresponds with the findings in the schools sport survey that, when asked what would motivate them to take part in sport, twenty per cent of girls said they would take part in more sport if they were better at sport. Older girls are also more likely to feel uncomfortable taking part in PE lessons.
Disability Sport Wales gave evidence that a number of barriers remained for disabled participants including: costs; the location of facilities; the need to increase the capacity of mainstream clubs; perceptions around disability and sport; dependency on others for transport; media representation and coverage; marketing materials; accessibility and carer attitudes. Both Disability Sport Wales and the NUT expressed concerns that cuts to schools’ budgets may make it difficult for schools to provide the same sporting opportunities for disabled and non-disabled pupils.
When questioned about the participation of poorer socio-economic groups, Sport Wales said it was “’reasonable to assume’ that the costs of club membership, facilities and equipment were contributing factors.” Public Health Wales said there was a need to address the “general lack of awareness of local facilities and opportunities amongst those living in deprived communities.” Stonewall Cymru gave evidence that: “research revealed that whilst many lesbian, gay and bisexual people are interested in sport (94% of those who responded), they have also been put off by negative experiences or the perception that it is an unpleasant and unsafe environment for gay people.”13 Sport Wales also gave evidence about barriers to people from ethnic minority communities.
These include: facilities at some leisure facilities were unsuitable for women of certain faiths; family responsibilities and childcare were a barrier for some women; and discrimination. It stated that developing more family-based activities may raise participation. Show Racism the Red Card Wales warned against simplifying and stereotyping different communities. It cited barriers to participation including: racism and discrimination; the lack of role models; the lack of safe play environments; and the failure of sports organisers to adapt their practices to the cultural and religious beliefs of communities and families.
It stated that there is only one et PE teacher from an ethnic minority in Wales.
Regarding cuts to local authorities’ budgets, the Welsh Sports Association (WSA) stated that sport and leisure facilities are ‘at risk of being further diminished simply because it is an easy target for cuts.’14 It suggested placing a statutory duty on local authorities to provide sport and leisure services. Sport Wales said there was a need for more collaboration between local authorities both at a regional and national level to deliver sport and leisure facilities. Evidence was given by the WSA, Public Health Wales, Sport Wales and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) about increasing the provision of sports facilities.
Again, 12 Ibid 13 Ibid 14 Ibid
16 Sport Wales emphasised the importance of collaboration, saying that it was encouraging National Governing Bodies to collaborate “across sports and with local authorities.’ When asked about the use of schools’ facilities after school hours, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said that teachers should not be expected to staff facilities after school hours and that providing community access to school facilities should be the responsibility of Local Authorities. The WLGA said that local authorities had service level agreements with schools with on-site sport and leisure facilities.
The Committee also received evidence about the Welsh Government’s free swimming scheme.
Take-up by over 60s has continued to increase but take-up by under-16s has fallen. The number of free public swims by those aged under 16 had decreased from 807,837 in 2004-5 to 421,076 in 2012-13. Sport Wales also said that while the National Curriculum expects all children to be able to swim by the age of 11, this expectation was not being met. Due to the complex nature of barriers and motivations for sport participation, policy interventions must not be based on assumptions and different interventions may work for different groups of people. As recommended in the Committee’s report, further data are needed on the barriers and motivations for participation for different groups.
This includes examining the effectiveness of the Welsh Government and Sport Wales’ current interventions such as the free swimming scheme. As will be further examined, there may be good reasons to invest in individual sports as, as the cliché about riding a bike exemplifies, these skills stay with people and participation in these activities may be more sustained than for some team sports as they rely less on maintaining links with clubs during life’s transitions. However, sports clubs are also valuable and as resources become scarcer, better links need to be fostered between sports clubs, National Governing Bodies, Local Authorities and schools to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to increase participation in grassroots sports and physical activity.
4. Reasons for participating in sport The Irish Sport Council published extensive research on taking up and dropping out of sport in Ireland in September 2013.15 Many of the findings could be relevant to Wales. The main findings included: that the greatest challenge for sports policy is not getting children involved but maintaining the involvement of teenagers and young adults; better links are needed between schools and sports clubs; limited public funding should not be spent on facilities but on participation programmes.
The researchers found that physically active children do not necessarily become active adults.
Transitions in life have an impact on sport participation, for example, the move from primary to secondary school, school examinations; going to university; entering the labour market; moving home and starting a family. They found that more than 90 per cent of adults believe that exercise is good for their health. This is true of adults from lower as well as higher socio-economic groups. However, adults from lower socio-economic groups were found to perceive themselves to have less control over their own participation.
15 The Irish Sports Council, Keeping them in the Game: Taking up and dropping out of sport and exercise in Ireland, September 2013
17 They found that of activities taken up during childhood, the two main activities that are still undertaken in adulthood are swimming and cycling. Swimming accounts for 40 per cent of the activity undertaken by those aged over 40 years that was initially taken up in primary schools. For this reason, they advocate further investment in these activities. They find that activities that rely more on sport club membership incur a higher drop-off rate than individual activities.
They state: “Dropping out from all sport and exercise activity is much more likely if a person participates in only team sport. The rate of drop-out from team sports played at school and college is severe. Our estimates are that among participants aged 16 and over, more than 75 per cent of basketball players, 53 per cent of hurlers and 52 per cent of Gaelic football players will have dropped out of the sport within 3-4 years. The estimate for soccer is lower, at 23 per cent, while for the most popular individual activities the rate of drop-out is lower again.”16 Examining the reasons behind dropping-out of sport, they find that work commitments are the most common reason given.
Leaving school or college is cited as a reason for dropping out of team sports by more than one-third of drop-outs. Lack of time and life transitions may explain why individual activities incur less of a drop-out rate as they can be done when people have the time and do not rely on maintaining links with sports clubs. Looking at influences in sport take-up, the researchers found that almost 70 per cent of children who take up sport are introduced to the activity by teachers or parents. 74 per cent of adults who take part in sport were introduced to the activity by a friend, colleague or family member.
The majority of adults who take up a new sport do so at a sports club or organisation.
They also found that dropping-out of sport on leaving school has more of an impact on those from lower rather than higher socio-economic groups. More disadvantaged people are less likely to participate in sports clubs outside of school. This links to the fact that very few people take up a new sport or activity on their own initiative but rely on social contacts: “People who went on to third-level education or who work in professions are more likely to have friends and colleagues who are participants, leading to more opportunities to take up new activities on an ongoing basis as they progress through adulthood.”17 Regarding facilities, they find that “policies that rest on the idea that more and better facilities will result in higher participation rates are, straightforwardly, not informed by evidence but by other considerations.”18 Rather than facilities, the Irish Sports Council recommends focusing investment on programmes to increase participation.
These include: ensuring that students leaving schools have the necessary social contacts, encouragement and opportunity to continue participation outside school; participation programmes need to fit opportunities to participate around busy lives; and there is a need to establish social contact with non-participants and lower socio-economic groups. Local Sports Partnerships are considered the most appropriate vehicles for designing, piloting and evaluating these interventions.
The main lesson for Wales to learn from this research is that a similar large-scale and comprehensive statistical analysis on the reasons for participating and dropping-out of sport 16 Ibid 17 Ibid 18 Ibid