THE BLOG

Sports Funding - Get Your Kit On Campaign

13/11/2015 17:05 GMT | Updated 13/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Come the 25 November 2015, when the Chancellor announces his spending plans for the next five years, grassroots sport could be bracing itself for a long, cold winter.

Cuts of between 25 and 40%, if extended to spending on sport, would have a serious impact.

And you might think, so what? We need schools and nurses, policing and armies. And we do. It's just that we need sport too.

For a start, sport as a whole is worth a huge amount to our economy. £20bn in all. It's bigger than the motor vehicle sector, the insurance sector and even the telecoms sector in the UK.

It's also, behind being a carer, the biggest sector for volunteering - people giving their free time to support others in sport is worth almost £3bn.

And one in 50 of us has a job in sport or a sport-related industry.

But behind these headline statistics lies a more fundamental truth - that sport is part of the fabric of every single community in the UK.

In villages and towns across the country, every evening and every weekend, sports clubs open their doors and welcome anybody who cares to drop in. More than 50,000 clubs in this country, offer everything from programmes for children and taster sessions in schools to mixed sports for able-bodied and disabled athletes. Almost two million volunteers (which is more than the entire NHS workforce) organise more than three million tournaments for people seeking competition, including more than 26,000 in schools, they deliver initiatives which target hard-to-reach communities or the disenfranchised and they build, grow and maintain vital community facilities. Sport matters to so many people and impacts positively on the lives of every community in this country.

In my sport, badminton, we offer grass roots, recreational programmes such as No Strings Badminton for more than 75,000 people very year.Our SmashUp! programme is designed to address participation among those young people who traditionally have not engaged with PE and sport and has been an overwhelming success in attracting 45,000 to play sport on a regular basis and adopt a healthy lifestyle. It's now played in one in every three secondary schools in England.

We work in partnership with our clubs, local authorities and community groups to help almost 500,000 people play every week.

We have mass participation events EVERY week in badminton - our 2000+ clubs provide social and competitive opportunities for more than 50,000 people!

The money which government provides (£350m, by the way - about as much as we spend on foreign military aid) helps to sustain all of that activity - and more. The sport it supports is valued by millions of people - from the parent whose child is coached in a safe and expert environment, through the competitor looking to win the league, to the volunteer who wants to meet new people.

And the government should value it too.

Because every person who plays badminton at one of my clubs is one person less likely to develop a cardiac condition. Every teenager who spends his evenings learning how to play is a teenager less likely to commit crime or anti-social behaviour. Every adolescent studying how to coach at his or her club is developing skills which will stand them in good stead in the jobs market. And every older person who stays active by knocking a shuttlecock around with friends is less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's, is better connected to their community and is less likely to feel isolated, depressed or lonely.

Sport is important not just because it is good, but because it is good for society. Even if you aren't physically active, you feel the benefit of others who are - by paying less for the NHS, by having somewhere to drop your children at the weekend, by increasing our wealth as a country. In fact, spending on sport may be one of the best investments this government can make.

Written by Adrian Christy on behalf of the Sport and Recreation Alliance

Members of the National Governing Bodies CEO Forum are supporting the #GetYourKitOn for grassroots sport campaign launched on 9 November, encouraging people to tell the Government how much they value funding for grassroots sport. For more details visit www.GetYourKitOn.team