By Louise Hingley – Account Manager
Grassroots sport is currently in limbo. All grassroots sport and facilities have been forced to close again during this second lockdown. Grassroots sport offers so much more than just the sport being played. There are tremendous mental and physical health benefits and opportunities to meet new people, share talents, learn new skills and, in turn, strengthen community bonds. In this article, Cratus puts in focus the contribution of grassroots sport to communities.
Anyone who has ever been involved in grassroots sports as a player, parent, coach, volunteer or bystander knows the huge community effort that goes into enabling a team or individual to play the sport they love; whether it is a parent who brings the oranges for half-time, a player that washes the bibs or a coach who gives their time every week, come rain or shine, to see budding athletes improve. Grassroots sport draws members of communities of all ages and backgrounds together. Cricket, tennis, bowls, football and rugby clubs are home to a hive of social activity, interaction and the support of a real community. This involvement in grassroots sports boosts the community; people involved feel closer to their team-mates and embedded in their communities.
The data backs this up, too. Young people from lower socio-economic groups report a 10-times higher increase in scores for trust in their neighbours as members of sports clubs when compared to those from higher socio-economic groups. They also report a 3-times higher increase in life satisfaction scores from being a member of a sports club when compared to those from higher socio-economic groups. This builds on academic literature that suggests bringing people together around a common cause can help to build friendships, trust and the impulse to volunteer that are so important to community development.
Sports participation also has a positive impact on crime. A 10 per cent increase in sports participation has been found to correspond with a fall in violent crimes of over 1 per cent and a fall in property crime of 0.65 per cent. More research is needed and, of course, sport plays a distant second fiddle to socio-economic factors like unemployment and poverty, but grassroots sport should be part of a package of solutions to the social ills that communities face.
As we emerged from the last lockdown, Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of Sport England, said:
“One thing for certain is that, when we start finally to emerge from the current lockdown, sport at grassroots level can and should be part of the solution to bringing communities back together, helping to repair the damage this period has brought to our social fabric, and keeping people fit and healthy.”
As we plan how we emerge from this second lockdown, this sentiment is no less true. Grassroots sport makes a huge contribution to our communities and we must ensure that the right support is in place for sports clubs to overcome this crisis. Indeed, the Culture Secretary’s announcement that grassroots sport will be one of the first areas of society to reopen after lockdown is a positive sign and recognition of the important role grassroots sport has in communities.
Here at Cratus, we are all about celebrating and supporting communities. If you would like to get in touch with our communities team, please send us an email.