Children and the most disadvantaged in society have been put at the heart of a “golden reset” for sport and activity, with Sport England announcing a new 10-year strategy to transform fitness levels and tackle obesity. As part of the plan, an additional £50m of support will be given to help grassroots sports such as netball and rugby recover from Covid-19 in 2021.
The announcement is part of a concerted effort to tackle activity levels that dropped markedly in the global pandemic and to address growing sporting inequalities.
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Nearly 14 million adults in England did less than 30 minutes of exercise a week between mid-March and mid-May last year, with the spring lockdown causing “unprecedented” falls in activity levels. The number of children who met the government’s guidance for an hour of activity a day also dropped by more than 100,000, according to Sport England.
The organisation’s chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth, told the Guardian he was confident the new strategy could make a real difference. “The last year has presented huge challenges. But it has also given us a golden opportunity to reset how we deliver sport and physical activity in our communities and to rethink how we help people to find a way to get involved.”
He added: ”At the heart of all this is a ruthless focus on providing opportunities to people and communities that have traditionally been left behind, and helping to remove the barriers that stop them from playing sport and being active.
However Sport England say their new strategy will work to get the nation on its feet through a combination of targeted investment, innovation, and the use of new technologies.
Crucially the report promises to particularly help those who have traditionally been left behind, pointing out that: “Right now, the opportunities to get involved in sport and activity – and reap the rewards of being active – depend too much on your background, your gender, your bank balance and your postcode. We’re determined to tackle these inequalities and unlock the advantages of being active for everyone.” The sports minister, Nigel Huddlestone, welcomed the proposals and said they were part of the government placing sport and physical activity at the heart of its coronavirus recovery plan.
“The sector has responded to the significant challenge of keeping people active,” he added. “I am confident they will continue to drive up activity levels, help to tackle obesity, and build the foundations for both young people and adults to have more active lives”.