More Scots than ever involved in community sport

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Credit: Greyerbaby
Tara Gandhi
Deputy News Editor

The Community Hubs aimed to get young people and disadvantaged groups engaged in sports

Community Sports Hubs across Scotland are at an all time high of 192, after a push for an increase by the Scottish government after the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. First launched in 2011, the government set the goal of first having a sports hub in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas by 2012, and the overall goal of 200 hubs across Scotland by 2020.

Community sports hubs aim to provide a home for local clubs and sports organisations, making it easier for people to get engaged in a healthier and more active lifestyle. The hope was that the hubs will operate to promote five principles within the public as part of the Glasgow 2014 legacy; engagement with the local community, growth in participation of sports and exercise, promotion of community leadership and therefore community spirit, increased interest in sporting activities, and bringing groups across communities together. Funding for the hubs comes from a variety of sources, such as the National Lottery and sportscotland, and is allocated on a geographical basis and depending on the plans that communities put forward about their hopes for their hubs and the clubs that want to get involved.

The current 192 hubs encompass 158,488 players in 1303 clubs, with numbers having almost tripled in the last five years due to continued support for the programme.

The government’s goals concerning sports hubs came as part of the Glasgow Commonwealth 2014 legacy, along with the building of new sports centres and a housing development being created in what was the athlete’s village. Many of the legacy goals aimed at increasing opportunities for those across Scotland, but especially concerning young people and those that may be socially disadvantaged.

Encouraging participation can do a huge amount for social cohesion, fostering healthy competition and providing an outlet for those that may not have many other opportunities to get involved in extracurricular activities. Among disadvantaged young people participation is often much lower than their more affluent peers, despite evidence showing the positive impacts on issues including high crime rates, low aspirations, qualifications and expectations, and high rates of ill health tat sport can have.

Joe FitzPatrick, the Sport Minister, said, “Over the past five years we have invested in growing Community Sports Hubs across Scotland and this is reflected in the 192 we now have. These facilities and the hard-working staff and volunteers at them play an important role in the lives of communities throughout the country.

“As Sport Minister I have seen first-hand numerous examples of the great work at hubs that are providing more and better opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to participate in sport and physical activity. Support for community sport hubs is key to our vision for a more active Scotland, supporting our aim to reduce physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 15% by 2030.”

By aiming to increase the physical activity of communities across Scotland, wider goals are hoped to be achieved. Aside from the social benefits of sport, there are the obvious health benefits. Heart health has been a clinical priority for NHS Scotland in the past 15 years, hoping to improve the cardiovascular illness rates across the country; In 2014 a study revealed that people in Scotland were four times more likely to die of heart disease than those in other parts of the UK. Since then, the statistics are improving, but it is vital that the Scottish Government continue to promote schemes that encourage exercise, alongside their other legislation to promote healthier eating.

It is this view to the future that is essential for the legacy of the commonwealth games to be successfully continued, and the steady increase in the number of sport hubs is a hopeful glimpse into the positive impacts the games may have on Scotland.

Stewart Harris, chief of sportscotland, thanked the hard work of community participants and volunteers in getting the community sports hubs programme off the ground: “Sport has the power to change lives and we are seeing that in day in and day out in local communities thanks to programmes such as community sport hubs. We want to deliver a system for sport in Scotland that is world class and that provides opportunities for everyone to take part in sport and achieve their goals, whatever level that represents.”

“That is why the work of hubs is so important.”

“Across the country hubs are providing more and better opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to participate in sport. We have made great strides in this area and will continue to work with our partners in the months and years ahead to ensure that we help build a Scotland, where sport is a way of life.”