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The Observatory for Sport in Scotland (OSS), a new sports ‘do and think’ tank, has received a major funding injection to undertake pioneering research that aims to capture better understanding of grassroots participation in sport across Scotland.

Funded by a £35,000 donation from conservation and tourism business Wildland Limited, the study will be undertaken by leading UK sports researcher Nick Rowe to develop a detailed picture of the ways in which Scots of all abilities access and engage with sports and physical activity.

By analysing changes in participation by different demographic groups over time, the growth and decline in popularity of different sports and differences in the way people view and engage with sporting clubs, the OSS hopes to get a better understanding of the actions needed to improve Scotland’s sporting potential.

As well as building a better picture of sports uptake at home, the OSS will seek to learn lessons from abroad, with assistance from the Danish Institute for Sports Studies (IDAN) who, alongside other European partners, will provide comparative data and analysis.

Once completed, the research findings will be subject to wide stakeholder consultation before a formal report is published by the end of the year.

OSS is committed to establishing a pool for knowledge and a clearer picture of sports participation across Scotland. This study will identify areas of good practice we can adopt and also the barriers to participation, which we can seek to overcome.

Marie McQuadeExecutive Director of OSS

“We aim to publish the results of this study and share it through events and consultations with partner organisations, so that all those passionate about growing community sport in Scotland can focus on what engages Scots most.

“The research affords us the potential to set Scotland on the path for greater uptake in sport across our villages, towns and cities, feeding directly into the health agenda for everyone to increase their personal physical activity.“

Bob Reid, Development Director of Wildland Limited and OSS Board member said:
“We are delighted to sponsor the OSS’s work because increasing opportunities to participate in sport across Scotland, particularly in our great outdoor spaces and rural areas, has become a key ambition for Wildland Limited.

“To achieve that we need to understand the factors that lie behind uptake trends and what we can do to get more people active and playing sports regularly in communities.”

Nick Rowe added:
“We have a gap in our knowledge around sport participation rates across Scotland, the patterns, influences and future prospects in a rapidly changing society. As many strive to become more active others are getting left behind in a downward spiral of sedentary behaviours, poor health and social isolation. We need to understand the motivators for behaviour change and the barriers to uptake and how all those involved in promoting and delivering community sport can intervene effectively to make Scotland an active and healthy sporting nation.

“Scotland may learn from other European countries, including the Danish Institute for Sports Studies (IDAN) and the Mulier Institute in the Netherlands, who will be supporting the research by providing comparative data and analysis.“

Following the publication of Phase 1 of the research in late 2018, Phase 2 will explore the key social, economic and cultural influences on the uptake of sport in Scotland and examine the their potential impact on the future of sport participation.

Marie McQuade – Executive Director

Observatory for Sport in Scotland (OSS)