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Funding boost for Sport for Development Coalition

The Sport for Development Coalition (SFDC) is aiming to “significantly grow” its network after new National Lottery funding was announced by Sport England, along with further support from Comic Relief and Laureus Sport for Good.

The SFDC, which has been supported for the last two years by the same funders, is a ‘Movement’ of charities, national governing bodies and networks who believe in the power of sport and physical activity to act as effective tools for intervention when generating a wide range of positive social outcomes. These range from tackling youth violence to improving mental wellbeing and increasing community cohesion.

The funding will be used to build and co-ordinate the Movement, and gather sector-wide evidence of positive social outcomes. This evidence will enable the SFDC and its partners to demonstrate the value of investing in sport and physical activity at a national level – especially to other sectors such as health, criminal justice or education.

The aim is to unlock significant additional investment and resources for community sport organisations. More than 70 have already signed up to the SFDC’s Charter, and the ambition is to grow the network to a minimum of 400 within the next four years.

The SFDC’s mission is seen as vital by Sport England, Comic Relief and Laureus Sport for Good in helping the sport and physical activity sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and complements the work each funder is already doing to support the sector at this difficult time.

Sport England
The new funding is a significant boost for the Sport for Development Coalition (Pic: Sport England).


Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: “Covid-19 has had a profound impact on people’s relationship with sport and activity, and on the sport sector as a whole. People and organisations are doing their best to adapt and it’s never been more evident just how much benefit being active can bring to people’s physical and mental health. Sport England will continue to make the case for investing in sport and physical activity at a national level to help solve local solutions – and that’s why we’re pleased to be supporting the Sport For Development Coalition, alongside our partners Comic Relief and Laureus.  This investment will allow the Sport for Development Coalition to grow its reach to a wider network of partners, creating a collective voice, new collaborations, and insight-driven development work – and ultimately helping us all to improve the lives of those who most need our support.”

Ruth Davison, Chief Executive of Comic Relief said: “The work of the Sport for Development Coalition is more important than ever in these challenging times. Comic Relief is delighted to continue to fund this programme to help deliver long-term support throughout the Covid-19 crisis and its recovery.”

Adam Fraser, Laureus Sport for Good Chief Executive, said: “Laureus Sport for Good is committed to supporting the sport for development sector, which is needed now more than ever in these challenging times.  That is why we’re continuing our partnership with the Sport for Development Coalition, and are excited to help grow the Movement showing that sport has the power to unite us.”

The SFDC will initially be hosted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance as it develops its governance and organisational structure with the intention of it becoming independent by June 2022. It will advertise shortly for an Executive Director who is expected to be appointed within the next three months.

SFDC Chair Andy Reed OBE said: “We are extremely grateful to our funding partners for this new investment. The SFDC’s aim now will be to significantly grow the network and the momentum of this Movement, and demonstrate on a national scale how the power of sport can improve people’s lives and build stronger communities.”

Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth will join a live Twitter takeover with the SFDC on Monday 1st June. To participate, simply follow the hashtag #SportForDevelopmentCoalition from 8-9pm.

Organisations within the SFDC network gave their response to news of the funding.

  • Mark Lawrie, Acting Chief Executive of StreetGames, said: “StreetGames is delighted that the Coalition’s work can be driven forward at this critical time thanks to this funding. Now, more than ever, collaboration is key to tackling the stubborn inequalities that exist in access to sport. Our collective voice, insight and expertise, harnessed by the Coalition, is essential to ensuring as many lives and communities as possible are changed through the unique power of sport.”
  • Nicola Walker, Chief Executive of Sported, said: “Harnessing the power of the Sport for Development sector is critical as we look to rebuild communities and tackle inequalities. Combining the efforts of those supporting this unique enabler of social change will only make all parts stronger. Sported look forward to collaborating, learning and delivering through the SFDC and with its supporters.”
  • Arun Kang OBE, CEO of Sporting Equals: “It’s fantastic news that the SFDC has received this funding. The upcoming work of the Coalition and our collective voice in the sector will be imperative to help build stronger, healthier and more connected communities. As we all know, BAME communities have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. With Sporting Equals’ vast reach into BAME and faith communities on the ground, this joined-up approach is vital if we are to tackle such inequalities in the future.”
  • Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of Women in Sport said: “It’s never been more important for all those involved in sport for development to collaborate, so this funding is great news. We know that lockdown has had a disproportionate impact on women so as we emerge, teams, clubs, and sporting organisations must work hard together to equalise access to sport.”
  • Barry Horne, Chief Executive for Activity Alliance, said: “We are delighted to hear the Sport for Development Coalition is to receive this funding. Collaboration is central to our work in sharing disabled people’s insight and knowledge in sport and activity. This in turn, will help to change attitudes towards disabled people and embed inclusive practice right across the sector.”
  • James Mapstone, Chief Executive of the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice, said: “We welcome the news and it couldn’t be more timely as the need for collaboration, advocacy and unlocking new resources will all play a vital role in the sectors ability to respond post Covid-19. The SFDC has been moving from strength to strength and now with firm support from some of the sector’s key stakeholders, it will play an important role in empowering community organisations using sport to build stronger communities and positively change lives.”