Welcoming Sport

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Welcoming Sport –
developing a more welcoming culture across community sport

 

Let’s build an awareness, training, communication and award programme designed to increase diversity and inclusion across community sport

 

 

You can watch a recording of a presentation of some of our thinking around Welcoming Sport here
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.

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.

 

How Northumberland Cricket Board (NCB) developed a diverse and inclusive Board

The NCB was formed in 2010 and initially, it comprised white men with either a cricket and/or local authority background.  Russell Perry, the Chair then decided that to become a more relevant and representative group they had to bring in people with a different background and skillset.

They brought the first woman on to the Board, who opened up NCB to the world of social media and stuck a chord with their much younger staff.

The process was led by Claris D’cruz, a local charity barrister/consultant and an NCB Director.

Gradually, they broadened the scope of the members of the Board, challenged groupthink and brought in new contacts and skills, which helped them to engage better with their community, funders and the ECB.

The board now has twelve members, three women, three of Asian descent, four in their forties and two in their thirties.

The demographic of the communities in which sport operates has also changed dramatically. Our culturally, linguistically and gender diverse communities are looking for sporting options and experiences that celebrate diversity, promote inclusion, and most importantly, make people feel like they belong.

We must develop community sports places that are welcoming to everyone and ‘not just people like ourselves’

We must develop pro-active behaviours, options and actions to make people from all backgrounds, ages and abilities feel welcome, respected and that they belong at your club/centre. Being inclusive is about following best practices for what sport/physical activity should be so that everyone can get the most out of it.

Diversity is the mix of peoples’ different attributes and backgrounds and a good way is to think about diversity is to think about your local community. Does your club/centre reflect the diversity of your local community? Diversity is the mix of people, inclusion is trying to get this mix to all work together in harmony.

How Bright Star Boxing attracts non-boxers
One of the over 50s sessions in progress at Brightstar
Bright Star Boxing Academy is unlike any other gym. Set up by founder Joe Lockley in 2015, it started simply as a way to get fit and practise boxing in Shropshire. However, since its inception, the gym has become a pillar of the community, helping people from across the West Midlands to get fit while also tackling mental health issues.
Today Bright Star runs sessions for groups ranging from women who have suffered sexual
abuse to homeless people those young people who are excluded or at risk of exclusion from school and social prescribers.

Every Saturday the gym also hosts ‘Counterpunch’, a group aimed specifically at encouraging males to talk about their mental health.

Counterpunch helps the club reach out to vulnerable people, empower them and make
positive changes to their lives by offering informal mental health support from its coaches – many of whom have experienced mental health problems themselves

Making inclusion happen

Everyone should have the opportunity to be actively involved in whatever sport they choose, in whatever capacity they choose. Each sporting organisation should be committed to being inclusive and open to all members of the UK community regardless of age, gender, disability, cultural or religious background or sexual orientation, or other attributes that may add to any person feeling excluded or isolated.

But the reality is, a tale of missed opportunities still exists. Sports and clubs are missing out on entire groups of potential members, players, administrators and volunteers. More importantly, people who want to play sports feel, for a variety of reasons and barriers, excluded and don’t want to become involved.

Welcome to our club?

Golf club secretary: “Of course, we welcome new members,
as long as their handicap is low enough”

 

Those challenges and opportunities exist within culturally and linguistically diverse populations. gender inclusion, homophobia and sexuality, people with a disability, race-based inclusion and religious vilification.

The Welcoming Sport programme aims to improve on that situation

The six components of the programme:

1. Involvement of NGBs, Active Partnerships, leisure trusts, associations representing the less engaged groups and so on

We propose that all potential stakeholders are invited to intro meetings held at strategic locations across the UK.

 

“Asian communities are an important part of the football landscape and should
be better represented across the game.

It’s like in any business if you’re only selecting from a smaller section of the population then what are you missing?”

Gareth Southgate

The purpose is to secure the buy-in from these organisations many of whom may not have been ‘in the same room’ before although they, and their clients, would benefit considerably from a more welcoming culture and behaviour across community sport.

It is therefore key that they, as far as possible, speak the same language and send out the same messages which, unfortunately, is not always the case. The intro meetings should each run for, say, two hours.

We will present the programme and content and listen to feedback and comments and fine-tune the format and content.

We see these intro meetings as an important element in developing the Welcoming Sport movement.

Flyerz Hockey are drawing disabled people into hockey across the UK

‘Flyerz’ hockey is the name widely associated with grassroots disability, inclusive hockey in Great Britain. There are now more than 20 Flyerz sections across England, Wales and Scotland, providing inclusive hockey for disabled people.

In 2011, Access Sport’s Disability Inclusion Programme was launched to support local community sports clubs to become more inclusive of disabled young people. Access Sport partnered with Waltham Forest Hockey Club to create the first fully inclusive hockey section in England, which was named ‘Forest Flyerz’ and inspired other clubs to introduce ‘Flyerz’ hockey.to Access Sport supports hockey clubs in starting their Flyerz section, providing them with the tools and resources they need in their journey to become inclusive of disabled individuals.

In 2011, Access Sport’s Disability Inclusion Programme was launched to support local community sports clubs to become more inclusive of disabled young people. Access Sport partnered with Waltham Forest Hockey Club to create the first fully inclusive hockey section in England, which was named ‘Forest Flyerz’ and inspired other clubs to introduce ‘Flyerz’ hockey.to Access Sport supports hockey clubs in starting their Flyerz section, providing them with the tools and resources they need in their journey to become inclusive of disabled individuals.

Kate Page, Development Manager for Disability Inclusion at Access Sport says, “don’t hesitate! Don’t overcomplicate. There’s no right time – just do it!”. Adapt only when needed. Try to keep sessions similar to the mainstream sessions – adapt or simplify only when necessary”, wise words we think.

2. Awareness/social media campaign 

In 2016 SMN was commissioned by England Golf to develop and deliver an initiative to stimulate and encourage innovation across golf: #MoreThanGolf.  We recommended to England Golf to start out with a social media and PR campaign, fronted by the then CEO, Nick Pink.
That was the first time this type of campaign had been run by a sports body, and as far as we know, the only NGB that has used social media to engage their stakeholders, invite their input, ideas and generally engage with the world around them.

An email account innovation@englandgolf.com was set up and the campaign received 500 email responses. 

 

Half of those said that “there was nothing wrong with golf”, that “this campaign was waste of time and money” and that “BBC should show every minute of the British Open and then the kids would want to play golf”.

But, the other half thanked England Golf for listening, for inviting ideas etc. and many put forward ideas and suggestions, some of which we would have never thought of ourselves.
One of those email responses then asked:
Some internet research then showed that dogs are welcome at many golf clubs across the world,
but we also heard stories about members being rejected from golf clubs because they brought their dogs and “that was against the rules”.

Full stop. It is worth noting that 30 per cent of UK households have a dog.

Then we were alerted to the fact that you can bring your dog onto the Old Course at St Andrews, the home of golf (peak green fee £195.00).  (If you bring your dog to Sunningdale Golf Club (green fee £275) the dog gets a free sausage). 

So, if your dog is welcome at some of the UK’s most prestigious golf courses, surely all other courses should follow suit.

We then came across this website from Germany where you can book onto golf courses where you can bring your dog. 

Every year in South Shields, outside Newcastle, the world’s largest Dog Walk takes place with 34,000 dogs and their owners, raising £ 1 Mio for doggy charities. Also, 20 National Trust properties run dog walk in aid of Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, so they raise money for a good cause and attract visitors to their properties.

 

 We told those stories at England Golf’s sell-out innovation conference, that SMN organised for them at Villa Park, which brought together 200 people from across golf keen to be inspired to develop new initiatives.

 We propose to a similar social media/PR campaign with a strapline such as #MoreWelcomingSport where we invite ideas and examples on how we can make sport more welcoming, diverse and inclusive. 

 
We reckon that, out there, there are plenty of good examples and ideas that we then can share and highlight through the campaign.
 

Getting females from multi-ethnic communities to play football 

Nagin Ravand is an Afghan refugee whose parents moved to Denmark in 2002, so she was brought up in a very egalitarian ‘Danish-style’ culture. 

Relatively quickly she discovered that she was a good footballer and she never considered that it was unusual in Denmark to see girls playing football wearing a hijab.

When she was 12 the family moved to Gellerup an area in Aarhus, which is a multicultural community where many residents come from countries where females do not normally play football.

So, Nagin started a girls section at a local football club and gradually people got used to seeing this group of females playing football in hijabs she learned how to engage with both the girls and the parents.

When she realised that some of the parents were concerned that their daughters were missing out on their school work due to football, she started study classes alongside the football sessions.

Since then Nagin has won several sports and community awards and is now an ambassador for getting females from multicultural backgrounds to play football.
In between, she is also a second-year student at Aarhus University.

With an adventurous heart and an open mind, she is a true role model, fighting the barriers for girls and women to be active in sports.

 For Nagin, young people from deprived areas must get the same opportunities and experiences as other young people.

”It is important that we give Muhammed and Aamirah something to talk with Svend and Maria about. It is about giving the young people something they can have in common” she points out.

3. Workshop/webinar programme 

Using the combined expertise and experience from SMN together with feedback and ideas gathered during the first two steps of the programme we will develop a series of face to face workshops and follow-up webinars.

Over the years, SMN has developed a toolbox that we tend to use when we develop our courses:

  • Thoughts: Through story-telling, examples and inquisitive questions we challenge the status quo and help you think outside the box and build an edge to growth
  • Tools: We provide you with a wide range of simple tools on how you can achieve best practice, improve and grow the business in simple steps
  • To-Dos: Having decided which tools to use, we can then give you simple templates and action points – to use there and then

At this stage, we reckon there will be a programme with a blend of face-to-face workshops and online webinars.

We propose to offer a 3-hour intro workshop called Welcoming Sport where we go through how providers of community sport can develop and deliver great, welcoming experiences for everyone regardless of their background and skills.

Modules and also webinar topics can include

  • Modernising your board to become more diverse and inclusive
  • How to become a more diverse and inclusive place
  • How to run a really great Open Day for all
  • First impressions count – how to get new people through the door
  • From sports coach to welcoming activator
  • From Performance and Pathway to Pleasure and Participation
  • Using social media to attract and engage people
  • Working in partnership with non-sport community partners
  • Making people wanting to come back by giving them great experiences
  • How to become a hub for your community
No doubt, our engagement  with partners and our social media campaign will bring out other topics and aspects which we will then incorporate into the programme.
Modules and also webinar topics can include

  • Modernising your board to become more diverse and inclusive
  • How to become a more diverse and inclusive place
  • How to run a really great Open Day for all
  • First impressions count – how to get new people through the door
  • From sports coach to welcoming activator
  • From Performance and Pathway to Pleasure and Participation
  • Using social media to attract and engage people
  • Working in partnership with non-sport community partners
  • Making people wanting to come back by giving them great experiences
  • How to become a hub for your community
Mixed Ability Sports breaking down barriers

Mixed Ability Sports (MAS) was conceived to promote social inclusion and meaningful interaction between individuals and groups who wouldn’t necessarily share paths in their local communities. At least not in ‘normal’ circumstances.

Many of their participants have experienced – or still, experience – exclusion, social isolation and segregation daily because of their perceived diversity, and MAS is their only asset.

An asset to their physical, social and mental wellbeing, a space of equality, rights and equal opportunities. A crucial part of their identity.

Mixed Ability sport has the potential for positive impacts at the individual, club and societal level:

  • At the individual level, participants reported both physical and mental health benefits, increased self-confidence and self-determination as well as a sense of belonging in the Mixed Ability team, club or group. For example, one participant stated ‘It’s made me more confident about doing other things. When I start learning new things, and if I haven’t done it before, I get really nervous … and since I’ve come here I don’t feel I get nervous anymore.’ Antony Binns, Mixed Ability boxing participant.
  • At the club level, respondents reported a more inclusive club culture, new members and a membership more representative of the local community, more accessible infrastructure and coach development. A representative from one of the Clubs embracing Mixed Ability said ‘Mixed Ability has transformed our club culture. It makes me wonder how we can make the rest of society more like this!’
  • More broadly, the impacts included the meaningful inclusion of disabled participants in mainstream sport. Also, participants reported shifts in perceptions of dis/ability, a raised awareness of barriers to participation in sport and other areas of society.

4.    Online library resource with guides, case studies and webinar videos

Over the years, SMN has acquired considerable experience with building comprehensive libraries of resources supporting innovation and enterprise within community sport, and our current premium service, Sports Enterprise Network comprises one of the biggest libraries/resources of its kind.

We are proposing that Welcoming Sport, over time, build a similar database/library covering how to deliver welcoming, inclusive and diverse sport with guides, case studies and webinar videos that we are constantly producing for the Welcoming Sport project.

Initially, SMN will produce a 32-page guide on How to become a Welcoming place for sport, which and we will then produce add-on guides and so and build this all-encompassing library covering all aspects of delivering welcoming, inclusive and diverse sport.

 5.    Awards programme with conference and award presentation

In 2015, working with Cricket Scotland on the #MoreThanCricket programme, SMN helped them to introduce an awards programme for their clubs that matched the ambitions
Cricket Scotland had for their clubs and got them away for the traditional awards, for ‘best coach’ and so on.

The new categories were: 

  • Biggest Change-Maker at a Scottish Cricket Club
  • Scotland`s Most Welcoming Cricket Club
  • Best use of `Bite-Sized` Volunteers
  • Best use of Social Media
  • Most Innovative and Effective Income Generation
  • Strongest Community Engagement

The impact was considerable, as the whole support and training programme was also geared towards improving the clubs’ performance in these six areas.
The awards were presented at the annual Club Enterprise Conference.

We would like to propose that we include a Welcoming Sport Award programme in this project
The awards could include: 

  • The overall most welcoming place for sport
  • The most welcoming sports club
  • The most welcoming leisure centre
  • The most welcoming sports project
  • The most diverse and inclusive place for sport
  • Most welcoming coach/instructor in community sport

The awards could be presented at an annual Welcoming Sport conference where we highlight best practices, showcase great examples, bring in ideas and thinking from customer service, hospitality, retail and entertainment and generally, inspire bodies, clubs, enterprises, charities, coaches and others.

6. Network with e-news and sharing of stories and lessons learned

As the project gathers momentum, we propose that we set up the Welcoming Sport Network where we, say, monthly, share ideas and best practices, run webinars, follow-up meetings and generally support the Welcoming Sport movement and momentum to keep the whole ethos growing.

Sports Marketing Network – a strong, credible and experienced partner

Since 2006 SMN have helped physical activity and community sports providers to share best practice on how to become vibrant, visible and viable and develop innovative and enterprising enterprises.

We have been described as positive disruptors and we have worked with a wide range of sport, physical activity and community organisations helping them to adapt, change and become better equipped to the changing landscape.

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.

Thousands of people involved with community sport and physical activity across the UK and Scandinavia have participated in one of our ‘hot topics’ conferences covering issues such as Innovation and Enterprise in Community Sport, More Disabled People into Sport, Delivering great sport and physical activities for and with ethnically diverse communities, More Girls into Sport, Britain’s Active Parks, Disability Sport or Sport for Disabled People and A Healthier Nation through Sport and Physical Activity.

We have also developed and delivered year-long projects for Cricket Scotland, Rugby Football League, Football Association Wales Trust, Copenhagen City Council, Ulster University, sportscotland, London Sport, Sport Hub Denmark Golf England, Sport Wales and Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity/Burgess Sport so we have considerable experience in developing and delivering, sometimes complex, blended, innovative award-winning projects which make a real difference.