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Poverty and access key barriers to participation

By 18 July 2019July 22nd, 2019No Comments

School sport and how it has changed, both curricular and extra-curricular, was a key theme for discussion at the ASI Scottish Open.

The Observatory for Sport in Scotland hosted its latest business breakfast at the Renaissance Club, courtesy of OSS board member Martin Gilbert and tournament sponsors Aberdeen Standard Investments, where we shared the latest analysis of Scottish sport and physical activity research conducted by OSS Research Advisory Group Chair Nick Rowe and Sheffield Hallam University.

Following on from the last breakfast where Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood outlined the health and activity crisis enveloping Scotland, guests from across sport, business and communities discussed the trends and where their own experience offered insight and potential solutions. Calls were made for OSS to engage people with real experience of inactivity, poverty and other barriers to sport, to educate people on the challenges and to support community sport and clubs to reach more people and deliver wider and more sustainable impact.

Kicking off the discussion, Ann Park, the Director of Community and Partnerships at Hearts FC, spoke of the challenges in engaging children and families in sport in deprived areas. National statistics show more than one in five children in Scotland now to be growing up in relative poverty, but Ann spoke of it being nearer one in three in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh, and how providing a balanced meal for children was now a key part of the service at Tynecastle and across sports clubs as they sought to fill gaps outside school sport.

Catriona Matthew, Team Europe’s Solheim Cup captain, spoke of her experience growing up and learning sport at school, and how that contrasted with her children’s experience of access to sport, while former Celtic and Scotland captain John Collins was also struck by how difficult it is for children now to develop the skills and confidence in sport, both in and out of school, when they lack the natural playground of nearby streets and local fields he enjoyed and instead rely on adults taking them to facilities, and paying for use of those facilities.

In looking at solutions to the challenges, Ian Beattie, Chair of Scottish Athletics, spoke of the work in athletics to use the Commonwealth Games 2014 as a positive influence to attract more people into a wide array of sport through clubs. Susan Jackson, the former Commonwealth Games athlete, highlighted similar approaches by Netball Scotland to inspire people of all ages across communities to ‘bounce back’ to netball or give it a go for the first time.

OSS Chairman Charlie Raeburn outlined how it was incumbent on stakeholders across Scottish sport, recreation, leisure and activity, from government to local authorities and community clubs, to come together to support each other, and not expect one stakeholder alone to find the new sustainable way forward.

David Ferguson, the OSS Director, concluded by thanking everyone for their contributions and support of OSS, and pledged to maintain the momentum for change, with further events lined up for Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Borders and London, before the first OSS National Summit open to all at the end of November.

If you wish to join the OSS community and help us to support those at the sharp end of sport and activity in Scotland, head to our forums for more information on how you can play a part.