Hits: 508



Community Sport in the Future


 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?


26th May 2022, The Lamex Stadium, Stevenage FC


Strategies, policies, experiences, real stories and successes to be told, lessons to be learnt, ideas and experiences to be shared.



8.45 – 9.30 Registration and Tea/Coffee


9.30 – 9.45 Welcome and setting the scene

Chair, Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director, Sports Marketing Network

More Information

Svend Elkjaer is founder and director of the Sports Marketing Network, a leading consultancy and information provider with community sport and physical activity. Being described as ‘a positive disruptor’ Svend has worked across the UK and Denmark with all types of providers and funders helping them to become vibrant, visible and viable.

9.45 – 10.15 Exploring a model for resilience and sustainability at our community sports clubs

Rosie Benson, Head of Clubs, Sport England

More Information

Sports clubs and groups have had a tough couple of years. Looking to future is probably something which has seemed impossible for many. Survival has been the name of the game. But in starting to rebuild we have an opportunity to consider doing things differently.

What do we want our community clubs of the future to look and feel like if they are going to be genuinely resilient, sustainable and importantly, relevant and well connected to their local communities? As the professional workforce supporting clubs, how can we help them achieve this? This session will explore a model for resilience and sustainability and the importance of a club’s culture and values if it genuinely wants to be inclusive and equitable. It will also explore how we might evolve the traditional approach to club development to better support clubs in achieving this.

Rosie Benson has worked in a variety of roles at Sport England over the last 15 years, and since 2017 has led the organisation’s work on community club development and support. Prior to this Rosie worked in consultancy, supporting local authorities and NGBs on their strategic planning, particularly on facilities, places and spaces which followed her early career in community facilities management. Rosie has been a volunteer in sport from an early age and is passionate about supporting community groups to deliver the best experiences in sport and physical activity.

10.15 – 10.45  If If you don’t like change, you will really hate irrelevance

Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director, Sports Marketing Network

More information

 Svend Elkjaer is founder and director of the Sports Marketing Network, a leading consultancy and information provider with community sport and physical activity. Being described as ‘a positive disruptor’ Svend has worked across the UK and Denmark with all types of providers and funders helping them to become vibrant, visible and viable

10.45 – 11.15 Leisure Trust of the Future

Kirsty Cumming, CEO, Community Leisure


11.15 – 11.40 Tea/Coffee


11.40 – 12.10 The National Governing Body of the future

Dave Marshall, Participation Director, British Gymnastics

More information


12.10 – 12.40 How a hybrid approach can help engage with local communities for our club

Melissa Anderson, Managing Director, Valleys Gymnastics Academy

More Information

 Valleys Gymnastics Academy was established in 2011 and has since grown to become one of the largest gymnastics clubs in the UK, providing over 2800 children, young people and adults with opportunities to be active and have FUN on a weekly basis. The organisation has committed to providing a modern, varied and dynamic ‘gymnastics’ offer to engage as many individuals as possible and works with a wide variety of local and national partners to achieve it’s aims.

 It’s hybrid approach to provision has lead VGA to be recognised as Welsh Gymnastics Club of the Year (x2), British Gymnastics National Club Award winners and British Gymnastics Award winners for Diversity and Inclusion (amongst others) – and regarded as an example of excellent practice. This presentation will summarise the hybrid approach to provision and illustrate some of the examples which have been successful in engaging members of the local communities in which VGA operates, e.g. Family Engagement Project, Sports Equipment Libraries.

 Melissa Anderson established the multi award winning Valleys Gymnastics Academy and is a former lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The club is the largest in Wales by some way and is a social enterprise, delivering gymnastics at all levels (participation and performance) – with and for the benefit of the communities of SE Wales. Melissa is also a Welsh Gymnastics Non Executive Director, a Wellbeing @Merthyr Trustee and a member of the Welsh Athletics Development and Participation sub-committee.

13.00 -14.00 Lunch

14.00 – 14.30 How inclusive and diverse community sport could look in the future 

Michelle Carney, CEO, Purpose Driven Impact

More Information

Inclusion, diversity and equity are terms which we hear a lot, and it can feel very overwhelming to know where to start. Inclusion is more than just saying you are inclusive – and is more than just offering a girls’ session or having a ramp into your club bar.

True inclusion is a culture and a commitment to being inclusive at every level – from how we communicate, to how we engender a sense of belonging and make necessary adjustments to ensure everyone is included.  It is also about a commitment to diversity of thought and voices at decision making levels.  Being truly inclusive and diverse in our own thinking and how we operate at every level is good for business and is great for society.  We will explore how inclusive and diverse sport could look in the future.  Just small changes can make a huge difference.

Michelle Carney has had a varied career and has worked in the UK, USA, Australia and Africa. She has worked at CEO/Director level since 2002, leading grassroots sports partnerships and organisations. Michelle has worked in the commercial sector, professional sport, international development and international sport for development.  Most recently, she spent three years as CEO of Special Olympics Great Britain and led a major transformational change programme culminating in a new strategic plan called “Inclusion in Action” which sets the roadmap for the future of the organisation.  Michelle has worked on a number of major national and global sporting events and strongly believes in the power of sport to transform lives.

Michelle is passionate about inclusion, diversity and belonging and creating inclusive environments which inspire people to be the best they can be. She recently founded Purpose Driven Impact Ltd to inspire and empower people to change the world through creating truly inclusive environments.

14.30 – 15.00 How technology is impacting community sport and what does it look like for the future?

Francisco Baptista, CEO and Founder, TeamSportz

More Information

Community and grassroots sports organisations are growing in popularity and engagement, yet there’s a huge lack of (technological) resources for these groups in terms of continuing to operate, manage and improve (on both a player and team level). Professional sports teams and national leagues of course get the luxury of having any and every kind of tech resource available to them, which is what drives their continuous development on the highest level. Time is up, and community sports need the same type of opportunities and tech resources that professionals have, in order to effectively improve player and team development. Being a basketball player in his local community his whole life, Francisco Baptista is no stranger to the barriers community sports teams face. He will be discussing how sports technology will enable grassroots players and teams to better connect with their local community.

Francisco Baptista is the Founder and CEO of AI multi-sport app, TeamSportz. Constantly curious, Francisco is always applying his technical and leadership skills to find more efficient solutions to complex problems.

He is a self-taught software developer with 20+ years, working and leading projects at a number of top companies, namely, Hearst Magazines, Bauer Media and Arrow Electronics. As a lifelong avid basketball player and experienced developer, Francisco combined his passion for sport and relentless drive for technology to create a sport and fitness solution that would be accessible for everyone, and that’s how the idea of TeamSportz was born in 2017.

Since then, he has been relentlessly developing and improving the product, building a strong team, and securing investment enabling him to officially launch TeamSportz to market in November 2021 


15.00 – 15.30 Sport for Development in the future

Ollie Dudfield, CEO, Sport for Development Coalition

More Information

The Sport for Development Coalition is born out of a shared belief in sport’s potential to play a greater role in helping to address social issues across the UK.

 Every day across our communities multiple returns on investments are achieved through targeted sport and physical activity-based interventions, delivering value for money and significant cost savings across key priority areas for the population at large.

 The Covid-19 pandemic has had far-reaching health, economic and societal impacts, which have in turn affected community sport and sport for development.  Following this period it is critically important that the sector is positioned as a contributor to building back better from the pandemic and levelling up long-standing health and societal inequalities across the UK.

 This presentation will explore how sport for development could look in the future, through examining how sport-based approaches can be best positioned to help address health inequalities, to support educational attainment, to improve livelihoods and level up opportunities across all parts of the UK.

 Ollie Dudfield leads the backend team of the Coalition in supporting collective action to create an enabling policy environment, measure impact at scale and unlock new investment in using sport as a tool for positive social change. The Sport for Development Coalition movement is a network of over 200 organisations working to maximise the positive social impact of sport and physical activity who collectively support thousands of projects and programmes across the UK 

15.30 – 16.00 The role of community sports enterprise

Charlie Hyman, Founder/CEO, Bloomsbury Football

More information

Bloomsbury Football Foundation is a charity that uses the power of football to improve the lives of young people. Founded in 2018, Bloomsbury Football now supports 5000 children in London every week.  

It’s more important than ever for charities to be financially robust and not rely on grants for their survival. From a footballing perspective, we are a hybrid model, between a grassroots football club and a community foundation. We are also a hybrid in a financial sense; half of our income is generated from the services we provide, and we take on additional grants to enhance our programmes and pursue new projects. We think this self-sustained core is important. Too often, youth services stop when funding runs out. We cannot allow our commitments to young people to rely only on the future generosity of others. 

Charlie Hyman founded Bloomsbury Football Foundation in 2018, where he currently serves as CEO. Charlie also sits on the board of Made by Sport, a charity and national campaign that both advocates for the use of sport for development and aims to bring new funds into the sector. He is proud to have been recognised as a 30u30 Sport Industry NextGen Leader and named London Sport’s Inspirational Young Person of the year for 2021.

16.00 – 16.15 Conclusion and finish