Why community sport matters.

For the last few months, Bill, Iain and producer Adrian have been relishing the opportunity to shed a unique sportlight (yes, I went there) on local sport and community issues in the Colchester area. YCSS Colne Radio Show is the embodiment of our combined love of sport and belief in the power of community, which takes us live on air every Thursday on Colne Radio. But why do we do what we do? And why does community sport really matter?

Access to sport and physical activity is a fundamental human right, just like freedom of speech and a right to education. But in our eyes, sport is not just about a couple of lines in a constitution; sport has the ability to do so much more than have a label stuck on it to say that anyone and everyone should be able to take part in it for their own physical wellbeing. Sport – in its multiple forms, levels, arenas – has the ability to transcend barriers and break down walls. Sport brings people together and unites families, communities and nations. Sport equalises its participants and helps develop team spirit and collaborative values. Sport laughs in the face of adversity – it’s about can not can’t.

In recent shows, we have had the privelige to hear from many different voices involved in Mental Health support and awareness. It is universally acknowledged that sport keeps you fit and healthy in both body and mind. The opportunity to socialise with others, gain confidence and make friends can create the supportive network that people with mental health issues need to feel accepted, involved and normal, if that’s really a label that means anything these days. The most effective community sport initiatives combine sport and play with other non-sport outcomes to achieve their outcomes – they promote coexistence, mutual respect and understanding.

Generally, sport remains a low-cost and high-impact tool for development and a powerful agent for social change – whether it’s going for a kick-about with a few mates in a five-a-side football league, or getting involved in a free fun run in the park. Admittedly, the equipment needed for some sports puts them well out of many people’s price range, be it skiing, kite surfing, sailing…even sports like swimming and tennis can set you back a fair bit if you start to require specialist equipment. But our interest here is not always on mass participation or performance in elite sport. It’s about involvement from every starting point.

In developing communities where people often have limited access to health care, education and employment, sport can play a significant role in improving quality of life and uniting communities. So why does it not fulfill the same purpose here? We definitely take for granted the lessons, opportunities and the education that comes from participating in sport. And we believe that everyone should have access and opportunity to participate in sport and physical activity in their community, for life.

© Lucy Tallentire 05.2017



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