Posted: Tue, 03 Jan 2023 11:18
Given the state of the world in 2022 it would be foolish to try to predict what might happen over the coming 12 months. But that doesn't stop us all trying at this time of year.
As we continue to recover from the Covid crisis which hit sport across the globe the war in Ukraine presented a major challenge internationally for sports bodies, and the knock on effect of the global economic crisis that has followed is felt by everyone.
Whilst there were a plethora of successful national and international sports events at home and abroad we continue to take a look behind the glossy legacy plans. We look behind the economic justification for major events and sports funding models. We don't sit here as cheerleaders for sport. We do believe that sport and physical activity have an important role to play in society. We do believe in the 'power of sport' to be part of transforming some lives (but not usually on its own!). So in 2023 we will be holding sport to account for its claims whilst at the same time helping the sector frame itself into the political world and amongst policy makers.
There is still a long way to go for the sector to understand what and why government should be involved in sport policy and what it does or does not fund. There is still no consistency inside government in what role it should play in delivering their agenda.
At one level the asks are simple. A school PE and Physical literacy plan that creates healthy and active children who have fun doing sport or PA and develop a lifelong habit of being active. We need a vibrant community sport and physical activity offer open to all, and an active environment to ensure the entire population remains active throughout their lives. Clearly non of this is easy and many will have different interpretations about what some of this would look like. It doesn't mention elite and professional sport, but should this be the priority for government given the scale of the inactivity crisis and the level of inequality that exists in delivery?
The year ahead will see the media concentrating on the major events and controversies. But we will be digging deeper into how we create long lasting policies that create the health and wellbeing agenda at the heart of government that recognises the role sport and physical activity and the sector can play. We do believe that there are many leaders inside sport who get the changing challenges of the landscape. But all too often we have seen the barriers to progress remain within the governance and lobbying of the current view of the sector. We challenge to help to adapt to the future, not to criticise the past. But doing more of the same is not the answer. We love what sport can achieve. In rugby for example we support what Kevin Sinfield is doing for MND fundraising - but hate what Jo Marler did in the game last week to get a 6 week ban. We love player pathways and the joy of competing, but we need to heed the warnings and lessons of the Whyte Review. We are pleased to see general levels of activity rising again (still nowhere near levels we can be satisfied with) but we hate the disparities in delivery and opportunity.
We wish everyone who volunteers, plays sport, spectates or works in sport and physical activity a Happy New Year. It is a massive year of challenge but also very exciting about what can be achieved.