It’s that time of year again – already – when we take a look back at the year in our key sports, and grassroots sport in particular, and ask how can things be improved for those of us actively involved.
For British archery it’s been another stellar year. Back in November 2016, it was announced that archery would have all of its government and lottery funding for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo removed. It was a bitter blow, but in February of this year the sport landed a reprieve, with funding reinstated.
Meanwhile, British archers continue to thrive, and in June Team GB won its first recurve medal on the international stage for 6 years.
While most people connected to archery accept it’s never going to be like football, exposure has increased – archery broadcast hours have doubled, with the likes of Eurosport and the BBC screening live archery in 2018.
We have an array of archery clubs on our books and the consensus seems to be that archery in this country, from the grassroots up, is in rude health. Let’s hope that continues through 2019.
The wonderful summer we enjoyed in the UK helped give us one our best cricketing summers for many a year, with far fewer games lost to the weather than normal.
Next year, the World Cup comes to England and many of the grassroots initiatives this year have revolved around that – engaging kids in a variety of imaginative ways. These initiatives and schemes undertaken by the ECB, and others like Chance to Shine, are striving to ensure grassroots participation is as diverse and inclusive as possible.
The Women’s Hockey World Cup took place in England this year, and it is hoped the many initiatives associated with it will boost participation at grassroots level. England went out in the 2nd round to eventual winners the Netherlands, but off the court all the signs were positive. The tournament was oversubscribed, in keeping with other trends around women’s sport, which is seeing encouraging growth on the whole. Schemes like Hockey Futures are doing tremendous work to try to give every young person the opportunity to play hockey.
The battle to make netball an Olympic sport continues with, frankly, little signs of encouragement at this stage. The good news, however, is that participation continues to grow in the UK. This is no accident – netball’s authorities have done amazing and meticulous work in raising the games’ profile. Other variants on the game, like Back to Netball, have also had a hugely beneficial effect on numbers.
KUDOS was proud to show off its wares at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, supplying the kit for Jersey, the Falkland Islands and St Helena. It was a privilege to see those athletes involved. On a more grassroots level, parkrun continues to make waves, giving people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds the chance to get active in their local park. One of our favourite stories of the year was Fitmums and Friends – another wonderful, and indeed award-winning, example of inclusivity. It’s sociable, supportive and is a great way to get yourself active.
For all we extol of virtues of grassroots sport – and they are plentiful and wonderful – grassroots sport always faces an uphill struggle. It’s always a struggle to find the requisite funding and even other means of support, such as volunteers. Despite the fact millions of us are involved, there’s precious little conversation had around grassroots sport, routinely eclipsed by the mainstream and the elite. We want to keep pushing grassroots sport, to stimulate conversation and debate around it and to raise awareness of whatever issues are on the agenda at the time.
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