Tag Archives: participation

One of the biggest barriers to participation in sports is a lack of awareness of the opportunities available in the local area. Many people would love to be more active and get involved with a local club or team, but they simply don't know what options they have.

That's what Spogo are trying to fix. Spogo is a Lottery funded charity that aims to improve participation in sport by helping people find classes, clubs and teams in their area. In addition, it aims to inform people about different sports and combat the misconception that sports are only for young people and natural athletes.

If you are interested in trying a new sport, take a look at the Spogo search tool in the sidebar of this site. The Spogo directory covers everything from archery to zumba, so there should be something in your area that appeals to you and your family.

According to recent research performed by Sport England, more than half of all adults in the UK do not regularly participate in sport. Given that the NHS recommends that adults aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise as well as practicing muscle-strengthening activities twice per week, this is a worrying statistic.

Sport England's research did not just examine the number of adults that are taking part in sport, but also looked at their demographics, in a bid to determine why some adults take part and others do not. Their findings highlighted several interesting barriers to participation for adults, including:

  • Gender: Men are, by a large margin, more likely to continue participating in sports as an adult than women are. This could be down to the wider availability of, and promotion of, sports aimed at men.
  • Education: Adults who have completed some higher education are more likely to practice sports than those who left education at a younger age. This could be because adults who are better educated are more aware of the benefits of sport, or it could be something that relates to the next barrier, income.
  • Income: Those in the upper income brackets have more disposable income, and are more likely to practice sports.
  • Weather: Adult participation in sports is higher when the weather is favourable, and tails off during periods when the weather is less favourable.

Promoting Participation

Sport England discovered that while adult participation in sports is poor, a large percentage of adults who were not currently actively involved in sport were interested in taking up a physical activity. This means that if the above barriers to participation are addressed, the number of adults taking part in sport should increase.

At Origin Sports we aim to address the poor participation of adults in sport in several ways. Firstly, it is known that children who play sports are more likely to grow up to be active adults. Our initiatives to get children involved in sports should offer long-term benefits to the community in Newcastle Upon Tyne. In addition, removing the barriers mentioned above should also help to encourage adults to participate in sport.

By offering affordable, inclusive sports in a pleasant environment that is "on the doorstep" for adults in Elswick and the surrounding area, we make it easier for them to try sport for the first time, and hopefully continue, building lifelong healthy habits.

It is difficult for many adults to join sports teams because they are scared that they are unfit, or that they will not be good enough to keep up with their team mates. In addition, many adults don't want to take up sports because they don't want to pay an annual membership, or they don't want to invest in expensive equipment. The coaches that work with Origin Sports are committed to making their sports as inclusive and accessible as possible, and this means that there is no pressure to sign contracts, and no pressure to invest in expensive training equipment. New members can borrow equipment until they have decided that they are ready to commit to the sport. This may sound like a small and simple thing, but it is something that is very important to those who are on a low income.

At most gyms, the two busiest periods are the new calendar year and the new school year. January sees the largest number of adults enrolling as people embark on the fitness regimen that was a part of their New Year's resolutions, while September and October are the times that see the greatest number of children and teenagers sign up because these months coincide with the end of the holidays and the start of school, college and university terms.

At this time of year we get a lot of enquiries from parents who are interested in signing their children up for a new sport. Origin Sports works with several martial arts groups, and naturally many parents are concerned about whether a martial art would be right for their child. Some parents think of martial arts as being too violent for a child, some are concerned about the potential for injury and others are simply not sure whether their small, young or shy child would do well in the class. These concerns are all perfectly normal and valid, and we hope that we can help you to understand more about the classes that our coaches run so that you can make an informed decision about your child's sporting future.

Are Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Good For Children?

As long as they are taught by a well-trained coach, and performed in a safe environment, wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) are good sports for children. Wrestling has something of an undeserved poor reputation, especially in the UK and Europe, because when most people think of wrestlers they think of the sports entertainment variety. The sport of amateur wrestling is vastly different to the kind of wrestling that made stars such as Hulk Hogan and Brett Hart.

The sport of Olympic wrestling is something that is commonly taught in schools in America, and it has numerous health benefits as well as helping to teach discipline and team spirit. Wrestling promotes speed, agility, strength and flexibility. Malcolm Morley of the British Wrestling Association notes that children take to wrestling quite well at an early age. Wrestling is an individual sport but practitioners train together as a team, fostering an environment of trust and mutual respect. Training sessions are quite intense and those who become passionate about the sport often find themselves making positive changes to their lifestyle so that they can do the best that they can on the wrestling mats.

Brazilian jiu jitsu does not quite have the same established presence as wrestling for younger athletes, but its popularity is rapidly growing. The movements and techniques taught in children's BJJ classes are different to the ones that are taught to adults. While adults learn a lot of positional control and submission moves, children's BJJ classes focus more on balance, co-ordination and agility. The children's BJJ classes use games to help children develop confidence and to teach them how to fall safely, how to escape from someone attempting to pin them on the ground, and how to control someone on the ground without hurting them. Older children do learn some submission moves, but only once they have shown that they have the co-ordination and the maturity required to do them safely.

The techniques taught to children are ideal from an anti-bullying perspective, and can arm a child with the confidence required to avoid a fight, and the ability to protect themselves without using excessive force, should it be absolutely necessary.

Will My Child Do Well in a Group Class?

While each coach has their own requirements, in general we suggest that parents wait to enrol their children in a kid's class until they can tell left from right. Mature children and teenagers may be welcome to attend adult classes. This is something that you should discuss with the coach of the class in question. Some children do well in the adult classes, but a child that is small for their age or very shy may need to spend some time getting a basic grounding in the kid's class before joining the adults.

Many parents are concerned that their child may struggle in a group class because they are shy, have a short attention span or are not naturally gifted at sports. This is not anything to worry about. It is a good idea to introduce children to sports while they are still young and can learn through play. Their co-ordination will get better with practice, and they will have a chance to bond with their peers, expend some energy, and hopefully learn some new skills. As they get older, their concentration will improve and so will their confidence.

What Can I do to Support My Child?

If you would like to support your child as they get involved with sports, try to learn a little about the sport in question yourself. That doesn't mean that you should sign up for classes or join a team yourself; although you will find that you will be made welcome if you choose to do so. Just take some time to learn the rules of the sport, and talk to the coaches about the skills that your child is learning.

Make sure that your child is having fun in the classes, and do not push your child to train too often or to compete if they are not enjoying it. There will be weeks when your child needs some extra motivation to step away from the TV and come to class, but if you notice that your child is lacking in enthusiasm every week, ask them why, and give them the opportunity to try another sport to see if they might enjoy it more.

Take care not to put too much importance on winning. Sports Psychologist Simon Hartley often talks about pressure and the impact that it has on sporting performance. In an article published in the Podium Sports Journal, he says "Normally, we feel ‘pressure’ when we start imagining what might happen if we don’t achieve the outcome we desire or that we expect. “What if I don’t win?”… “What will the press say?”… “What will the coach say?”… “What will people think?”…" these fears are something that most adults are all too familiar with. Try not to put your child in a position where they experience those fears. Congratulate them whether they win or lose, and let them enjoy the sport for its own sake.

At Origin Sports, we understand that not all parents have the funds to pay for gym fees, equipment, tournament entry fees and transportation. We aim to make sport as affordable as possible and to offer inclusive, affordable and safe access to sport for all. Our youth sports program is just getting started, and we hope to have some exciting updates coming in the next few months.

Great Britain was host to the Olympic Games in 2012, and Team GB put in a great performance taking home numerous medals. The slogan for the London Olympics was "Inspire a generation" and in the short term it appears that Team GB lived up to its goal. In 2012, hospital admissions related to childhood obesity fell, and the number of young people taking part in sport was quite impressive. According to a statistics round-up published in the Guardian in 2012, 86% of children playing were some form of sport.

Unfortunately, that inspiration was short-lived. According to the latest figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, childhood obesity cases are increasing once again. It is hard to track sports participation, because the Department for Culture, Medicine and Sport no longer tracks sport participation themselves and Sport England only tracks participation figures for children over the age of 14. However, some groups do track the participation of their younger athletes, such as the British Wrestling Association, and those groups are seeing a steady decline in child participation.

A Worrying Trend

The decline in childhood sports participation is a worrying trend. The NHS recommends that young people aged between 5 and 18 engage in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Most school PE programs do not offer anywhere near this amount, and school playtimes do not offer the kind of structured play that would ensure that children are actually getting enough exercise.

Ideally, children should practice aerobic activities and also engage in sports that strengthen their muscles and improve their bone density. Martial arts, gymnastics, tennis and team sports such as football and rugby are all good options for children, but there are many barriers to participation for young children, especially those in disadvantaged communities.

Barriers to Participation

According to a survey conducted by Sport Wales, the main barriers to participation for young people are a lack of knowledge of which sports are available in their area, and a fear that they are "not good enough". Some young people are unable to take part in sports because their families do not have a car, so they are unable to travel to the gym or the activity centre in a reasonable period of time.

Where leisure facilities were available in the local area, one common reason cited for not using the facilities was that they were too expensive. Another reason that was often cited was that the facilities were too run-down or poor quality to be worth using. These are all issues that could be easily fixed through greater investment in sport.

Our Work

On a local level, Origin Sports aims to provide affordable access to sport for people of all ages in Newcastle Upon Tyne. The Elswick and Benwell & Scotswood wards both scored in the bottom 10 percent in the Index of Multiple Deprivation report for 2010. These areas lack basic services such as affordable access to sport for community members. We believe that providing residents with access to sport will help to not just improve their health and wellbeing, but also help to improve community spirit, reduce crime, and contribute to the regeneration of the area.