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AoS network contributes to book on Covid-19 impact on sport

The Alliance of Sport was instrumental in producing evidence for a new book detailing the impact of Covid-19 on sport across the world. 

Time Out: Global Perspectives on Sport and the Covid-19 Lockdown, published by Common Ground Research Networks, was released last week. 

The book chronicles the pandemic’s effect on all levels of sport, with Alliance of Sport consultant, Dr Haydn Morgan of the University of Bath, and our own Chief Operating Officer Justin Coleman, co-writing a chapter on the impact on the Sport for Development sector. 

Dr Haydn Morgan

“We wanted to ensure that Sport for Development wasn’t overlooked by the discussion about elite sport – such as the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics – as well as the commercial impact on gyms and professional clubs,” said Dr Morgan (pictured). 

“Sport for Development needed a voice too. We wanted to highlight how inequalities are being exacerbated through the pandemic.” 

Justin canvassed for insight from around the Alliance of Sport network, finding out the challenges and concerns of those delivering sport on the frontline in the community and within criminal justice settings. 

“The main issues highlighted were around financial challenges and engaging young people through sport when physical distance is limited by coronavirus regulations,” says Dr Morgan. 

“Employment within Sport for Development can be quite precarious at the best of times, with much of the work part-time or voluntary, so financial sustainability has been a huge challenge. 

Justin Coleman

“Relying on grants and charitable funding is an issue. The cancellation of the London Marathon – the UK’s biggest fundraising event – was just one example of money disappearing from the sector. That has serious implications for the breadth and depth of work that can be done.” 

Covid-19 has had an inevitable impact on the personal relationships and connections that are so crucial between coaches/mentors and all participants. “They have been far harder to build and sustain,” says Justin (pictured). “It has had a serious impact on young people and adults, turning former teams into isolated individuals. 

“In recovery services that use the power of sport and physical activity, such as substance misuse, the impact has disabled prosocial engagement, proactive development and progressive health and recovery. 

“The Sport for Development Sector (nationally and globally) now has an opportunity to unite, be proactive and positively impact the next phases of society’s recovery from Covid-19.” 

The authors, however, tried not to paint a picture of total doom and gloom. Feedback from around the UK and further afield reveals that strong resilience and passion still exist in the sector. 

“A lot of people get involved in Sport for Development work because they’ve had their own experiences around marginalisation or life challenges,” says Dr Morgan. “That deep desire to give back hasn’t abated during the pandemic. People are still finding ways to connect and do their work.

“During the first UK lockdown last summer, people also became more physically active and re-engaged with their communities. People saw parts of their communities they had largely forgotten or didn’t know existed. Tapping into that is an opportunity moving forward.” 

Find out more about Time Out: Global Perspectives on Sport and the Covid-19 Lockdown here

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