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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:

James Steel of sportscotland focused on Supporting world class sport clubs in our local communities. He highlighted the importance that sports clubs play in delivering sport ain Scotland, but also said that clubs in Scotland had probably been undersupported.

James also spoke of the importance of understanding the needs and aspirations of clubs and of how sports professionals and partners can best help clubs to achieve these.

He pointed to the ‘good things that can happen’ when clubs, communities, and schools/education share touch points. Noone cannot deliver good sport in isolation.

By making community connections clubs can grow their reach and scope and engage new people. In the end all this has to be put into a simple, usable plan.

Linda MacDonald and Joanna McLaughlin of The Robertson Trust spoke about how community sport can (im)prove its impact on community.

They highlighted how sport can be a valuable vehicle to engage hard to reach young people in communities and enable them to develop key life skills.  They emphasised how important it is to take a learning and development approach and improve skills/knowledge and thus increase capacity and sustainability.

Robertson Trust has supported various programmes helping community sports providers to improve the way they collect meaningful data about the work they are doing and to use it to:

  1. improve the services they can offer participants, volunteers and sports leaders;
  2. secure additional funding for their services;
  3. become more sustainable as an organisation &
  4. plan for the future more strategically

They advocated a development approach which improves skills/knowledge and increases capacity and sustainability. Proving the impact of sport can be challenging in a number of ways. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try! Robertson Trust funded a two-year programme supporting 8 sports enterprises to develop the knowledge, skills and tools they need to collect the data they need to measure their outcomes.

Diane Cameron of Senscot spoke of the journey  From ‘just a sports club/hub’ to sustainable community sport enterprise. She highlighted how sport has the power t

  • improve employment, education and training
  • engage young people
  • invigorate the local economy
  • develop resilient communities
  • improve health and wellbeing
  • develop physical literacy
  • strengthen crime prevention
  • create sustainable transport

She highlighted examples from across Scotland where social enterprises working within sport are delivering on the above aims, such as Factory Skatepark, My Adventure, Atlantis Leisure and Street Soccer Scotland to name a few. Their common factors are that they are

  • Passionate
  • Driven to make a difference
  • Community run
  • Delivering for local people
  • Operate like business
  • CreativeDiane then emphasised that social enterprises in sport cannot deliver their services for free, but possibly cheaper. She then concluded that they are strongly community focused and definitely always works in partnership. And as Diane concluded: ‘We are an enterprising bunch – let’s work together’.