Northern Thunder Powerchair FC – a challenging and rewarding journey

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Adam Parry, Sports Development Manager, Percy Hedley Foundation

Another great presentation at

Disability Sport or Sport for Disabled People
A one-day conference focusing on how to increase
disabled people’s participation in sport and active recreation
16th May 2013,
English Institute for Sport, Sheffield

Northern Thunder Powerchair Football Club is one of the largest Powerchair Football Clubs in the world and is also extremely successful in its competitive elements. This growth in the club has taken place over 6 years and has been a challenge when taking in to account the cost of the sport and the physical disabilities the participants have.
Rising from one participant for the first three months through to over 40 weekly participants as well as satellite clubs around the region Northern Thunder has been at the forefront of Powerchair Football nationally and internationally and Adam Parry will present to you some of the elements of this challenging and rewarding journey. In 2012 they were presented with an EFDS Star Club Award.

Adam Parry has been involved in the development of disability sport and clubs for 16 years. He currently manages the Sport Development programme for the Percy Hedley Foundation and in particular leads on the development of Powerchair Football and Wheelchair Basketball. Within powerchair football he is also the Director of Competition for the International Governing Body, FIPFA.

Community Sport in the Future Conference 1st March 2022

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Community Sport in the Future Conference 1st March 2022, CBS Arena. Covemtry

A one-day conference highlighting the challenges and opportunities facing community sport and physical activity

 New habits, digital technology and disengaged groups…how do we embrace?

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) has had a significant impact on life as we know it, and community sport and physical activity are no exemption.

Community sports need to adopt a new mindset and learn a new skill set – taking the best from successful social enterprises and the hospitality sector.  They have to recognise that sport operates in the experience business and that it is competing for people’s leisure time and money and has to attract people away from online shopping, watching Love Island, apathy, etc. by providing better experiences for each customer segment.

Life is changing and community sport has to change with it.. Or even better – if you listen to people and their lives you should be able to anticipate the changes in their needs and wants. You can then adapt your offering and service so you are always that half a step ahead. 

These changes include that many of us have been more active outdoors and in more informal settings and that the number of apps and other digital technology solutions have boomed.  Unfortunately, we are also witnessing a widening in health inequality where the inactive and disengaged groups have become even less active and and

So, what can our sports bodies and clubs and gyms and leisure centres learn from these developments?

The first step is to acknowledge that these trends are accelerating and that they are here to stay. No, we will not go back to “the way things were”, with changing work patterns, massively increased use of technology, growth of social exercise/small sports happening all over the place.

We are also seeing a resurgence in the whole thinking around that sport and physical providers must become better at ”listening to people’s lives” and provide services and experiences that are relevant to different types of people.  High-pressure spinning classes may be great for 25-year old fitness fanatics whereas ‘walking and knitting or singing’ is more likely to appeal to 60+ females.
The second step is to throw away the rule book.  Too many places/clubs/bodies are run by the ‘diehards’ who want things to stay the same, partly because they are afraid of change.
Why can’t our football providers organise family football festivals? Our supermarkets should organise doggy walks starting and finishing in their car parks. Our housing associations could set up sports equipment libraries for residents (this is happening in Roskilde, Denmark)…the list of options is endless.

Build back better

It’s time for a rethink and re-set for providers of community sport and physical activity
In many countries, the traditional leisure facilities are therefore facing considerable financial pressure, whilst workout-at-home brands like Peloton, Nautilus and NordicTrack are reporting massive increases in the number of subscribers, cycling is becoming increasingly popular (In the UK there is a shortage of bikes) and Amazon and Google are joining Apple and many others in launching fitness apps and videos.
We are also an increase in the number of people joining traditional sports clubs but in more flexible ways.  In Denmark, they are seeing many families joining clubs but as part of a ‘motionsfællesskab’, or ‘exercise community’ which has proved popular with females who won’t/can’t commit to regular classes.  We are also experiencing golf clubs where people don’t have to join as members but simply buy say, 100 points, where a round on Saturday costs, say, 10 points whereas a round on a Monday afternoon only costs 4 points. 
We are also experiencing a growing number of non-sports bodies, such as housing, patient associations and social enterprises delivering physical activity programmes to residents, patients and clients, respectively. Many of our sports and leisure centres could benefit from
Does the average community sports club really welcome overweight people with underlying health conditions?  Does the fitness enthusiast want to (re)join their studio/centre when they have now taken out a £50 per month subscription to Peloton?  Can the family which has been used to doing family sport in the back garden join your place as a family? Family football or cricket, anyone?

Who should attend this event?

Representatives from governing bodies of sports, Active Partnerships, leisure trusts, gym operators, local authorities, community sports clubs, sports social enterprises, Sport for Development organisations, sports councils, patient associations and other bodies interested in the future for community sport and physical activity.

The conference will feature these presentations and presenters

Community sport in the future

Rosie Benson, Head of Clubs, Sport England

If you don’t like change, you will really hate irrelevance

Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director, Sports Marketing Network

Leisure trust of the future

Kirsty Cumming, CEO, Community Leisure

National Governing Bodyof the Future

James Hope-Gill, CEO, Skateboard GB

How a hybrid approach can help engage with local communities for our clubs

Melissa Anderson, Managing Director, Valleys Gymnastics Academy

How inclusive and diverse community sport could look in the future

Michelle Carney, CEO, Purpose Driven Impact

How technology is impacting community sport and what does it look like for the future? 

Francisco Baptista, CEO and Founder, TeamSportz 


Sport for Development in the future

Ollie Dudfield, CEO, Sport for Development Coalition

The role of community sports enterprises in the future

Sensei Mumtaz Khan, Managing Director, Onna Ju-Jitsu Club, Onna Bike, and Bradford Archery Club

Turn online shopping to sustainable fundraising source

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Turn online shopping and the power of your community into a long term, free, and sustainable fundraising source


Webinar Tuesday 25th October 7.30 pm BST

We have seen many examples where sports clubs have benefitted in terms of membership and income from playing a stronger role in their communities. And with a stronger focus on sport’s ability to change people’s lives, there is an even stronger scope for sports clubs to play a bigger role in their communities and the lives of people around them and become #MoreThanAClub.

Also as sports clubs must develop a sustainable income model – getting away from the panicky Dash for Cash, literally begging for money. The key is to look at the whole operation and ambition of your club and then identify and implement projects which can help grow your income to match your requirements.

It is key to integrate the sporting aspects and ambitions and your income generation as you must ensure that all your club’s operations are financially sustainable.

That will also be helped by becoming a hub for your community as more people will take an interest in your club and want to support you and take part in your activities and events.

This webinar will give you

Thoughts, Tools, and To-dos on how

you can utilise your community involvement to help grow

your income from online shopping.

Turn online shopping to sustainable fundraising source

Developing and training our community sports and physical activity workforce

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Developing and training our community sports and physical activity workforce

Are we focusing on the right areas, skills and methods
should we be more innovative or flexible?

A one-day conference, 17th February 2022,
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry

The changing times in community sport…how should our skills agencies, training providers, sports bodies, FE/HE and others, adapt?

There seem to be many discussions within community sport and physical activity as to how we should develop and deliver workforce training across the sector in the ‘new normal’ world, particularly when it comes to dealing with the many volunteers within the sector.

The questions are also whether too much of our accredited training is too complex and rigid in its structure and if that makes it difficult to adapt content and format to a changing world?

At the same time, how do we ensure that our training and workforce development is recognised and trusted across and beyond the sector? 

It has been suggested that we should an element of accredited training covering topics such as life-saving and child protection where specific skills and understanding are key. These standards can include academic quality, ethics, integrity, learning experience, and student experience, among others.

But around areas such as leadership, customer service and communication there could be scope for a more open approach as one can not always put these aspects into boxes. Obviously, the need for delivering quality training in this field is equally as important but could perhaps be measured more around user and participant response.

Many people in the sporting workforce do not like to work with inactive people

A recent survey of the sporting workforce showed only 2 in 5 had any sense that working with inactive people was for them

The expertise of the existing sporting workforce is undoubtedly extensive, however, a focus on technical skills has held centre stage for too long. Whilst these have a place and education programmes within these areas will continue, we cannot expect the number of people being active to rise solely based on improving technical capability.


We are also experiencing interest from some sports bodies to swift attention in sports volunteer workforce development from a rigid, technical focus to a stronger focus on developing a more welcoming and holistic approach to engage and activate inactive people.

Increasing diversity and inclusivity amongst the sporting workforce

Despite continued efforts, and various initiatives, community sport and physical activity in most places has not managed to significantly increase participation among people with different attributes and backgrounds (i.e. race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion) in a meaningful way.

Also, we continue to see those groups lag behind their white counterparts in terms of being physically active and living long and healthy lives.

So, we must develop training programmes that bring in people from more diverse backgrounds if we are to reach many inactive people.

One successful programme is the ECB’s South Asian Action Plan which now has attracted 1000 South Asian females who as the new volunteer ‘activators’ will combine coaching and mentoring to inspire and support the next generation of cricketers.

They will support the delivery of All Star Cricket, ECB’s entry-level cricket programme for five to eight-year-olds, in seven cities and act as role models, showing young people the positive part that cricket can play in their lives.

Another key part of developing a workforce that can work with social prescribers and others, to engage with inactive people is to include a focus on people’s mental health in our training programmes, again, something that is not currently being done.

That, again, will require new thinking, new formats and new content.

The sporting landscape has changed enormously in recent years. Government and community expectations for good governance, integrity, equality, member protection and child safeguarding means that providing safe, fair and inclusive sporting environments is no longer an aspiration, but an imperative.

Another point is whether the ‘system’ makes it difficult for smaller providers to access funding and/or get their courses accredited? Many groups, especially diverse ones, feel more comfortable with local, smaller training providers.

Bringing everybody together

We should bring everybody together involved with developing and delivering training and workforce development across community sport and physical activity to discuss, learn, exchange, network and improve and innovate – this conference will do exactly that.

The conference will bring together representatives from the Sports councils in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland accredited and non-accredited training providers, accreditation agencies, national governing bodies of sports, universities, colleges, employers.

The conference will have presentations from representatives from

  • Providers of accredited and non-accredited training
  • Workforce/Coach development managers
  • Professional development bodies
  • Standard-setting bodies
  • Accreditation awarding bodies

Three webinars on how technology can help community sport

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Three webinars on how technology can help community sport to reduce administration, increase income and grow your reach

 Presented by Sports Marketing Network and GameDay

Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director at Sports Marketing Network

Greg Sturge, Director of Strategy (EMEA) at GameDay

Are you ready for the change in the way we must engage with our audiences, players, volunteers, partners, sponsors and funders?

The way that many people are consuming sport and exercise has changed and keeps changing due to the pandemic and the way that digital is embracing our lives. We are also seeing many new people being active, but often enjoying new ways and formats that are better suited to their needs and lives.

This webinar will give an introduction to how providers of community sport and physical activity can benefit from adopting a more digital-savvy approach and attract new players and volunteers, build revenue and grow your profile amongst your whole community.

GameDay will provide you with case studies from across the UK and Australia on how sporting organisations have benefitted from introducing new digital tools and ways of working to increase efficiency and respond to the ‘new-normal’ in a post-pandemic world.

This webinar will also give you thoughts, tools and to-dos, helping you with your next steps on your digital journey.

Walks, festivals and markets are just some of the events that many enterprising community
sports providers have been developing and delivering over the years. From the Great North Dog Walk raising close to £1m every year for doggy charities, Lymm Rugby Union Club where the income from their annual Panto helped finance their new amazing community sports facility to Rodley Cricket Club whose Open Weekend brings the whole community together.

Also, as a consequence of the pandemic digital income generation has taken on a major role and GameDay will present an exciting case study on how football foundations and others are using online auctions to generate additional income.

This webinar will give tips and ideas on how to make sure you are engaged with your community and that you run community events, that people will want to visit and spend some time (and money) at your club/centre.

Many people have changed their sports and activity habits during the lockdown and clubs, groups and centres have to adapt to that new reality if they are to succeed and move forward. So, you have to develop more flexible and engaging ways of getting people involved with your place and you have to modernise/digitise your grassroots competition.

We are also seeing a change in the way that many young people want to become involved with community sport as volunteers, provided that we make volunteering more relevant and productive.

So, we will cover how to introduce/develop digital/virtual volunteering where you can bring young people with new ideas and initiatives to run your club.

We will also look into how technology can help our sports providers getter a better understanding of their community and become more diverse and inclusive.

The webinar will then include case studies on how GameDay are working with community sports bodies and their clubs to modernise their administration saving volunteer time and resources, and using data to improve understanding of diversity and inclusivity

GameDay are leading global providers of next-generation sports technology solutions, active since 2001 and now operating in key markets across the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

GameDay provides Membership, Competition and Event Management platforms, all underpinned by advanced data analytics to help organisations understand their participation and engagement. This is supplemented with digital website, e-commerce and auction fundraising solutions to service the sports community and build out comprehensive core platforms for any sporting organisation.

GameDay partners in the UK and Europe include the International Bowling Federation, Rugby Football League, Basketball England, Run For All, Basketball Ireland, GB Snowsports, Cricket Ireland, the UEFA Foundation and Aston Villa FC Foundation, as well as a wide range of grassroots clubs and event organisers

Project Kickstart Cymru Getting started in the ‘new normal’ world 

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Getting Wales moving, involved in sport and physically active in the ‘new normal’ world

An initiative designed to inspire and support the community sport and physical activity sector in Wales to modernise, become more digital, collaborate amongst themselves and with the non-sports partners and play a bigger role in the community they serve post the pandemic

11th March, 15th April, 13th May, 17th June 2021

Conference 13th July 2021 

In Partnership with:

The coronavirus crisis has presented us with challenges and changes to all aspects of our lives and the way that our community sports bodies and providers operate and will be operating in the future.

A key question is how the new ‘normal’ going to look like and how do we respond.

Will the way that we enjoy sport and physical activity be changing and, if so, how can we adapt to that?  We are already experiencing many changes in people’s behaviour in the way we exercise (or not) and we are also seeing many great examples of community spirit, some of them, but perhaps not enough, coming from community sport.

Many community sport and activity providers are in danger of not playing a big enough role in people’s lives right now and are not at the front of people’s minds.  When all this is over and people’s habits have changed those who were visible during the crisis will have a much bigger chance of regaining, or even improving, their reputation and standing in their communities. 

And how ready are you to adapt and change your offering, service and way of delivery?  Do we listen and learn?

There is now a strong need to reimagine and reinvent to focus on new thinking and innovation within community sport and physical activity. But the question is who and how this innovation should be developed and delivered. Do we expect our existing providers and bodies to quickly adapt and develop an innovation culture and start thinking ‘young’ and become positive disruptors to themselves?  Or do we expect the emergence of many new innovators who will develop and deliver these exciting initiatives? Where will they come from? How will they be regarded by the incumbents? 
How do we transform our sports facilities into real hubs for their communities that attract more inactive people in a vibrant, visible and viable way? For some that will require a completely new way of thinking going from facility management to facility enterprise.
As well as money, for this fantastic opportunity to be fully realised considerable elements of motivation, inspiration, learning and developing will be required.

 This is why we are proposing:

Project Kickstart Cymru

How to deliver enterprising community sport and facility enterprise in the new ‘normal’ world
Strategies, policies, experiences, real stories and successes to be told,
lessons to be learnt, ideas and experiences to be shared.

This programme will be serving::

  • Sports bodies, providers and clubs developing new formats, tools of engagement and communication, community partnerships, income streams and use of digital media  
  • Sports facilities/leisure trusts/local authorities transforming themselves into community hubs which are attractive and welcoming to the whole community and not just active people by becoming #MoreThanSport 
  • Community/non-sport organisations, such as housing, patient associations, park authorities,  the social business and enterprise sector, health boards and outdoor recreation providers who are using their engagement and connection with their communities to activate and engage local residents
  • National organisations/|Higher and Further Education bodies – those that support the activators, the doers and the innovators.  – such as Sport Wales, National Resource Wales, Public Health Wales, Universities, Colleges, Colegau Cymru, Wales Co-operative, Social Business Wales, etc…

The programme will ask questions such as:

  • How do we engage with the many inactive people who are not active through conventional methods and channels? Do we need new partners and providers and what role can the current sports bodies play?
  • How do we engage the local community and promote community leadership and play our part in the fabric of our local communities? How do we develop and deliver an innovative range of sporting and physical activity opportunities, attracting people of all ages and abilities?
  • How do develop an environment that encourages, inspires and supports people to be active?
  • How do we bridge the gap between ‘sport for sport’s sake’ and ‘sport for change’ and ensure that there is a common vision across all parts of the sector in Wales?
  • How do we encourage social and commercial entrepreneurs to step forward and become part of this new movement and help to develop innovative solutions?
  • How do we help the current providers and bodies to become more innovative and enterprising and to start thinking ‘wrong’?
  • What does community sport look like in the future? How can our community sports providers change and adapt to be relevant in a changing world?
  • Sport or physical activity – is there a difference and does it matter?
  • Who is going to get the inactive active?  How do we develop a more welcoming and relevant workforce?
  • How do the health sector view sport and physical activity?  How can the two collaborate to get more Welsh people moving?
  • What is the role of the modern governing body of sport? Just running their sport or being a community partner or something in between?
  • How do we encourage innovation and enterprise to develop new initiatives to get more people active?
  • What does real success look like?

The programme – four monthly webinars and a one-day conference

4 Webinars
The one-hour webinars will feature an overview and introduction from the organisers and then feature one or two presentations and case studies from providers and organisations from across Wales. 

  • Introducing Project Kickstart Cymru Getting started in the ‘new normal’ world 1 pm BST 11th March 2021
  • How to embrace technology and build on people’s new habits 1 pm  BST 15th April 2021
  • Community Engagement – how to become a real community partner and #MoreThanSport 1 pm BST 13th May 2021
  • Developing an innovative and enterprising approach 10 am BSTon 17th June 2021

13th July 2021

This conference will bring together all the providers and bodies with an interest in reimagining and reinventing how Wales can move forward and create a more healthy, active and engaged Wales in the ‘new normal’ world.

The first webinar is free to attend.  
The next three webinars all together cost £35 to attend (£30 for members of the Sports Marketing Network.

To attend the actual conference, and the three webinar costs £155.00 (£130 for members of the Sports Enterprise Network)

The organisers

Tom Overton – is a highly experienced sport, physical activity and community development professional and has more than 20 years’ experience working in various roles across the public sector – most recently as a senior leader in Sport Wales as Head of Community Sport and strategic lead for governance and leadership.
 He brings considerable experience of the sport and physical activity landscape across the UK and detailed knowledge and understanding of the public sector and political landscape in a devolved context; particularly the broader impact that sport has in tackling inequalities and delivering wider social outcomes.

He has recently set up a bespoke consultancy, ‘Dysgu’, to support individuals and organisations to be the best they can be. His recent/current clients include sportscotland, Torfaen Leisure Trust, FAWT, Cardiff City – House of Sport, Bridgend County Borough Council and the Active Black Country Sports Partnership. He is also a part-time lecturer at undergraduate and postgraduate level with the University of South Wales & Cardiff Met and a non-exec director with Welsh Athletics and Show Racism the Red Card. It’s all about people!

Sports Marketing Network, run by Svend Elkjaer, is a unique organisation where physical activity and community sports providers can share best practice on how to become vibrant, visible and viable and develop innovative and enterprising enterprises.

More than 4000 community sports providers from across the have participated in one of our Grow Your Club workshops, benefitted from 1:2:1 consultancy and mentoring, attended one of our conferences, participated in one of our webinars or read one of our Guides, so we have developed an unparalleled knowledge and understanding of the opportunities and challenges for the enterprise and innovation aspects of community sport and physical activity.