Sporting Future, a year on: sports minister challenges sector to innovate and grow

Sporting Future, a year on: sports minister challenges sector to innovate and grow

A year on from delivering the first real piece of sporting policy in a decade, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has challenged the sector to grow and innovate following a period of transition.

Crouch revealed the government’s 84-page Sporting Future strategy in December 2015, which switched the focus from the number of people participating in sport, to holistic measures around the benefits of physical activity, such as improved mental health and social cohesion.

The Chatham and Aylesford MP told Sports Management that while the first 12 months were about putting the foundations of the strategy in place, the next year is expected to bring “growth and innovation” in the way the sector engages with the public.

Technological innovation such as apps were referenced in the document as a way to engage with hard-to-reach individuals.

Organisations have also been encouraged to develop innovative schemes to make physical activity more attractive to the inactive.

“We want to make sure people have access to all sports regardless of what they are, regardless of where they live, gender and everything else,” she said.

Bodies bidding for government funding through Sport England are now expected to hit certain KPIs related to five broader outcomes: improved physical wellbeing; improved mental wellbeing; social development; personal development; and economic development.

As a result, the way sport will be funded has changed completely, with schemes geared towards engaging the inactive able to bid for the lion’s share of Sport England’s funding, while national governing body grants have decreased.

Crouch explained that while Sporting Future was a year old, it “effectively starts properly from April” when the new funding streams kick in.

However, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will still publish an annual review of the strategy later this month.

The sports minister was in West London to mark the day that parkour officially began to be recognised as a sport, which can now bid for government funding.

She said the activity increased the variety for people wanting to get involved with sport, adding that recognising Parkour UK as an official governing body would allow the sport to “grow in a very safe way”, with funding aimed at “well-trained coaches” and good facilities. 

First published, 10 January 2017, written by Matthew Campelli