Observatory for Sport in Scotland

About Us

The inspiration for the Observatory for Sport in Scotland came from the professional career of the Founder – Charlie Raeburn, his volunteer experience, a strong international outlook, a thirst for comparative knowledge, and his ability to engage colleagues and friends.

Charlie has been a teacher, adviser in Physical Education, and a Sport and Recreation Manager. He has been Chair of the Local Authorities Physical Education Network, Chair of the Scottish School Sport Federation, Member of the Scottish Executive Physical Education Review and the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Sport.  He is currently a Member of the Executive of the International School Sports Federation.

Charlie recognised the efforts being made in the development of community sports and the indexing of participation by existing Scottish government and academic organisations, but still he felt that much more could be done.  He had a clear idea of the issues:

“My concerns are: participation in Scottish sport and indeed how we measure it; governance of community sport at local and national levels; the transparency of all aspects of governance of sport in Scotland; affordability to participate in competitive sport; and last but not the least the fragility of local sport infrastructure.”

It was his contact with the Danish Institute of Sport and the Mulier Institute in the Netherlands that was to inspire him to form the Observatory for Sport in Scotland (OSS).

The first step was to create a small Working Group of like-minded people and with them, to develop the vision (see below) and the mission and objectives (see Our Work), for OSS

We believe that sport can be a force for improvement of all aspects of life, with potential benefits impacting upon health and well-being, gender and race relations, education and social welfare, civic pride, law enforcement, business and tourism.

Our vision is to build an evidence-based platform that recognises this potential for improvement across the range of sports activities and levels, including school sport, but with a particular focus on community sport, which we see as the primary underpinning infrastructure.

The platform would be built on the development of a set of criteria, recognising, but significantly enhancing existing models, collecting data and measuring community sport participation, and facilitate benchmarking with other countries, such as Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands. 

The Observatory for Sport will fill a gap in the Scottish sports landscape by creating a body, which based on objective information, will drive open, ongoing and transparent debate and decision-making aimed at taking sport forward.

The next step was to take the ideas to a wider audience.  A Seminar “Community Sport in Scotland – Dying? Dormant? Dynamic?” was held in Glasgow on October 2nd 2015 with 10 speakers, including the Directors of the Danish and Muller Institutes, and 75 participants from a wide variety of organisations. Sponsored by SCVO, the Allerce Trust, Reform Scotland, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and QTS, it was a success.  It developed ideas, expanded the network and resulted in a number of substantive follow-up meetings.

One of the follow up meetings was with the University of the West of Scotland.  This has resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between the University and OSS.

The last step in this early phase has been the recruitment of the Board of Trustees.  Seven out of an anticipated twelve Members have been recruited (see Who We Are) including senior individuals from business, politics and fundraising, and the Directors of the Danish and Muller Institutes.

The Observatory for Sport in Scotland is a Member of the SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations), is in the process of securing charitable status from OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator)