A year-long Commission has been launched to understand the effectiveness of grassroots and community sport interventions in low-income neighbourhoods – with a team of high-profile independent Chairs including broadcasters Adrian Chiles and Charlie Watson, and former footballer Brendon Batson OBE. In this article, ConnectSport speaks to the Chairs about their involvement, and the importance of the Commission.
Thanks for speaking to ConnectSport. Please can you tell us why are you supporting the Commission?
Brendon: The main thing is that we should be getting sport to youngsters, irrespective of their background and circumstances. Whether you play sport at the elite level, or just for fun, it is a great educator – whether that’s being involved in a team environment or for decision-making, or whatever – it’s all those things that you will carry through life. It is unfair on a lot of youngsters if they are excluded, because of their backgrounds, from enjoying sport.
Charlie: I come from the same background as a lot of the kids in these community groups. My mum had me as a teenager and I didn’t have much, or anything really. I know how important it is to have that positive engagement through physical activity and sport. At the age of 11, I started running and that was my escape – for my mental health, and from family trauma. Sport helped me with my self-esteem and my identity, and helped me to realise that I could achieve something. So for me, this could be the difference in someone achieving their potential. Often what young people need is very little; it doesn’t have to be a facility, it can just be someone taking an interest and believing in them. These youth and community groups give the message that young people matter.
Adrian: Every child should have somewhere to go, something to do and someone to trust. Kids need a place in their lives where they can feel safe to be themselves and have fun in a safe environment. That’s what these organisations provide. I’ve been astounded by the work these organisations are doing; they’re not much short of a lifeline to so many families. These clubs operate on a shoestring at the best of times, so they really are imperilled at the moment. Many of them, starved of the small amount of funding they need, are going under. It’s plainly a false economy to let them go. Without them the kids who did have somewhere to go, will have nowhere to go. And that won’t end well. The costs to society further down the line, in terms of mental health issues and crime and so on, will be far greater than the paltry sums needed to keep them going.
Read the full article at www.connectsport.co.uk.