One of the greatest barriers to participation in grassroots sport is, like it or not, expense. Some sports are more expensive than others, but all sports must strive to be as inclusive as they can possibly be, and therefore it is vital that we somehow stem the growing divide between families who can afford sports participation and those who cannot. We’ve taken a look at how clubs and individuals alike can make sport that bit more affordable.

The ever-growing gulf between the elite and the grassroots

It is always saddening to see parents having to pull their kids out of playing sport, or pull out themselves, due to prohibitive costs. We live in a time when fans of a number of Premier League clubs are having weekly collections for local foodbanks, while the outgoing Premier League chief Richard Scudamore is set to trouser a £5m payoff, on top of his £2.5m a year salary. The imbalance between the haves and the have-nots, and indeed the elite and the grassroots, is increasingly vast.

Unless we look more creatively about how we engage everyone in physical activity, we may win medals but we will be bottom of the league table on health and wellbeing Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Even football, once known as the working man’s game and renowned for being relatively inexpensive to play, is pricier than you might reasonably expect. When you tot up, say, £4 subs at training, £4 subs to play at the weekend, registration fees, boots, shin pads and everything else, you’re looking at the best part of a thousand pounds per season per child. It is a sobering reality.

Britain really has got sport upside down. Why spend billions on an Olympics when few kids in the country have the facilities to play judo, fencing, or equestrianism anywhere near their homes? Simon Kuper, co-author of Soccernomics and FT columnist

In times of austerity and cutbacks, some clubs are even losing shirt sponsors, as local businesses cut their cloth accordingly. Often, clubs will pass on this loss of revenue to the players or their parents by increasing subs, which in turn makes it more difficult for some to afford or justify. So how can we make life easier for clubs and individuals?

Sport Must Not Become a Privilege Reserved For The Comfortably Off

Last year on this blog, we asked whether we should be funding Olympic medals or grassroots participation. The answer, for most, is pretty clear.

The government must surely start to invest more in subsidies to make sport participation more affordable. Discounts or vouchers for larger families, those playing multiple sports and lower-income families, should be on the agenda. This would ensure that access to sport does not become a privilege reserved for those more comfortably off, and is open and accessible to all.

But what can clubs and individuals do, directly, to make sport more affordable for its members? If clubs can raise funds, it could prevent them passing on any costs to members, and keep subs capped. Last year we highlighted a variety of different funding opportunities for sports clubs and most of them are still taking applications.

Persuade Local Sponsors!

Shirt sponsorship, of course, isn’t just for the big leagues. Small and/or local businesses investing in sponsoring local community sports clubs can be a pretty savvy move on their part. Investing in a local youth sports club doesn’t just get the brand’s name out there on a weekly basis – it can significantly increase community-wide goodwill, and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship that pays off for the sponsor and the team. There is real strength in communities working together.

And, as most grassroots sport clubs are registered as not-for-profit organisations, a business’ investment should be tax deductible, viewed almost as a charitable donation. So, see if you can get a local firm to emblazon their name across the front of your KUDOS kit!

Think Outside the Box

You might have seen a local kids sports team at the checkouts in your local supermarket. You probably won’t have your players jumping for joy, but bag packing is a simple and effective means for raising a little extra money for your club. Turn up to your local supermarket in your club kit and spend an afternoon packing customers’ shopping – you’ll be surprised how all that loose change can mount up to a tidy little sum.

You could try other fundraising initiatives like undertaking sponsored challenges, while Sport England have their own funding portal, which outlines a number of ways your club can apply for funding. You could also try Pledge Sports, a forward thinking organisation who, in their own words, “provide a sports funding and commercial sports sponsorship platform for serious sports people, teams, clubs or events and brands aiming to raise money”. They are well worth checking out.

Funding applications can, however, be daunting and time-consuming, and people will often pass over the chance to apply. With that in mind, Sport England are now taking ideas, with a much streamlined process. So if you have an idea, fill in that short form and they’ll let you know if they can help.

What fundraising ideas and initiatives have your club had that worked well? Let us know on our Facebook page!

KUDOS SPORTS – A LEADING SUPPLIER OF CUSTOM TEAMWEAR

KUDOS supplies made-to-order teamwear to a range of sports clubs across the globe. We supply bespoke custom kit that is built for performance and worn with pride. Use our one minute kit designer to design your kit today.

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