It’s important for Sport England’s new leadership to restore clarity in terms of its main aim: providing ‘sport and physical activity for a healthy nation’ by giving transparent industry leadership through a clear, segmented offer. It should support sport and competition, the sports and physical activity infrastructure and the delivery mechanisms – operators, local authorities, clubs and volunteers.
There needs to be clarity and simplicity about what the agenda is. Sport England, as well as the wider industry, would benefit from allying closely and directly with the Department of Health, so that there is only one shared government agenda on healthy and active lifestyles.
It’s also crucial that Sport England engages and collaborates with existing organisations, and does not overlook the knowledge, experience and resources that exist within successful bodies across the UK.
For example, a clear working partnership with ukactive would allow operators to be engaged at the centre of the activity agenda, while County Sport Partnerships would also be at their most productive when remaining in the hands of local authorities.
In identifying the right parties with which to engage, social enterprises can play a key role in ensuring that the needs of sport, activity and health are not compromised in favour of a financial ‘race to the bottom’. To do so, social enterprises should be structured to ensure reinvestment into facilities and services, not to fuel private profit.
At a time where there is plenty of cause for optimism in sport and physical activity sectors, Sport England can flourish as an industry leader and make a huge impact to lives across the UK, if it correctly engages with operators, industry bodies and the government to fully utilise the resources the UK has at its disposal.