Clubs believe UK government isnít doing enough to help them inspire a generation to take up sport
Paul Dancey on 23/10/2012
A survey conducted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance has raised fears that the legacy of the 2012 Games is being squandered. Almost three quarters of grass-roots sports clubs surveyed believe the UK government isnít doing enough to help them inspire a generation to take up sport.
The survey found that sports clubs providing Olympic sports were more likely to have seen an increase in the numbers joining their clubs, with around 7 in 10 clubs confirming this to be the case. But 43% of those clubs also said they were struggling to meet that increased demand.
Respondents also described how lack of funding is preventing 3 in 5 clubs from growing their membership. Increased running costs were also found to be holding back the growth of over 54% of clubs, and over half of all clubs surveyed said the lack of affordable venues or facilities was preventing them from growing their membership.
Around 63% of club respondents have links with schools, and two thirds of these have links with more than one school. In the majority of cases there has been no change in these links following the Games.
When asked what the Government should do to help community sport create a legacy of participation, around half of clubs cited facilities, schools and red tape as the key issues requiring government attention.
Emma Back, a volunteer at multi-sports club Winchester Fit for the Future said: "We have insufficient sports infrastructure in our area Ė facilities are patchy and fragmented and none meet competition standards for swimming or for court sports.
"The community has grabbed the bull by the horns and is developing its own proposals for a community sports and leisure centre through volunteer input, but we need local institutions to take responsibility and invest for the future.
"I think people are exhausted and need support Ė moral, technical and financial. Overworked volunteers and coaches and club committees are of course delighted with all the post-Olympic and Paralympics interest, but are also under even more pressure because of it."
Kirsty Garrett, a volunteer at Sutton Churches Tennis Club said: "This year we ran 12 free tennis courses for young people but getting the information into schools was shocking. I can use council links and friends as a way in but whether or not that actually reaches parents and children is a different thing.
"Generally, it doesnít go any further than a head teacher or PE coordinatorís desk which means I end up running free courses that are not as full Ė as the children donít even know they are happening.
"There must be more links between schools and clubs. We have done everything we can to get the word into schools but it is very hard."
Jill Coathup, a volunteer at Worcester Gymnastics Club in the West Midlands said that whilst her club had experienced an increase in demand they were experiencing problems with volunteers, funding and red tape. She said: "CRB's are a problem in that you have to have a check for virtually every different environment which you walk into, which is crazy and could be sorted.
"Funding is so difficult to obtain, and if you do not know the buzz words to use you have no chance of receiving it. Applying for grants is also very time consuming, something most of us don't have as we are busy trying to run the club."
Andy Reed, chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said: "These poll results, so soon after such an amazingly successful Olympic and Paralympic Games, are a reminder that we must not let this opportunity to inspire more people to take up sport slip through our fingers.
"The key message we can take from this poll is that many sports clubs Ė who are playing a vital role in this endeavour to succeed on the legacy promise Ė are crying out for better school links, greater access to quality and affordable facilities and the removal of pointless red tape. All of these things are acting as a barrier to increasing club membership.
"The last thing that we want to be is negative, but we do think itís time for politicians to be more creative and pro-active about how we deal with these issues.
"We are living in challenging times but thatís all the more reason to think hard and smart about how we deliver sport and physical activity across the UK in the long-term, over the next twenty years."
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