Hits: 46

How Scotland’s community sports providers can achieve more by being more enterprising and working in collaboration was the key item on the agenda when 108 people from across the sector met at Murrayfield Rugby Stadium, Edinburgh, on 4th December.

The occasion was SMN’s Enterprise and Collaboration in Community Sport in Scotland conference, which was supported by Senscot and sportscotland. The conference featured great presentations from a wide range of organisations, all focusing on how we can deliver better community sport, creating stronger local communities.

Here are some of the highlights from the inspiring presentations:

Gordon Clark of Sport Wales spoke about Creating an enterprise culture in Welsh sport. Gordon told that a few years ago in Wales sports participation was static and that the community sports fraternity had a dependency on grants.  Partly inspired by some of the SMN’s work Gordon became a lone voice advocating a more enterprising approach towards community sport.

They started changing the language: Profit is essential, even if it is just by a small amount. Profit is not the dirty word it’s what you do with it. You could even sure the word ‘surplus’ – in the end you have to make enough to meet the bills and to invest in a planned future.

They involved Business Wales, the Government backed service aimed at supporting Small Medium Enterprises. (Sports clubs are, in reality, small businesses).  They also had some quick wins and gradually the ‘lone voice’ has developed into an ‘enterprise movement’.

Wales now has people with business skills on NGB Boards. social enterprises / clubs winning local, regional and national business awards and a number of advocates for making the change.

There are many benefits of this approach, including:

    • It helps clubs save on costs
    • It helps attract investment from outside of sport
    • Stimulates employment and regeneration
    • Develops more sustainable sport providers

Gordon ended by saying that all this takes leadership, upskilling of people working within the sector, new partnerships and focus on the outcome, not the process. Sandra Sutton then presented the fantastic story about Twechar Healthy Living & Enterprise Centre engaging the whole community.   

A former mining and quarrying village, Twechar is one of Scotland’s 15% most deprived areas. Twechar Community Action is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. They were established in April 2001 when the local authority decided to close the Recreation Centre. There was a community sit in and the local authority eventually agreed to hand over the building to the community.

Twechar Community Action was then developed and were successful in securing funding to completely refurbish the centre and transform it into a Healthy Living & Enterprise Centre which was more appropriate to the community’s needs. They are based in and operate the centre which provides facilities for learning, training, health and well-being activities, sport and recreational pursuits as well as offering accommodation for community and youth groups.

The centre is now thriving as a Development Trust and Social Enterprise, operating 7 days a week and provides a hub for the village engaging with a wide cross section of people from all ages and offering a variety of activities and services to support the community. But Twechar Community Action is so much more than just the Centre, through the work of a dedicated group of local residents other organisations have been formed such as Twechar Youth Group and Twechar Environmental Training Project.

Adrienne Hunter, Founder, Chair and Head Coach told the story of Glasgow Fever Basketball Club… where people make the game.

Adrienne highlighted how Glasgow Fever was founded in 2010 with an initial focus on providing more opportunities for women and young girls to get involved in the sport, as players or in an official capacity.  In that short time, the club has gone from strength to strength, evident not only in our on-court successes, but also in our ever-expanding membership base. Their unique club ethos, prominent in everything they do, is to promote positivity and respect for players and officials at all levels, as well as an understanding that success is not just about what happens on the court.

Starting as a team of 10 senior women players they have now increased their membership by over 1000% and include a range of playing and training opportunities.  Adrienne focused on the learning they’ve taken from the last 4 years by creating the right environment for growth, developing great people, a strong community focus, maximising investment and developing a vibrant the social side!