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FIA UPDATE An Olympic Year

January saw the dawn of our Olympic and Paralympic year, and with it a clear representation of how we will deliver the bid team’s promise to inspire a new generation to take up sport. David Stalker reports

most of us – and for some who want to emulate their Olympic heroes, encourage them to start being active. All of us expect a surge of participation immediately aſt er this large-scale event, whether that’s joining a sports club, running outdoors or going to the gym. But the diffi culty lies in maintaining this enthusiasm. T e solution: to create a sporting habit for life. To initiate the process of hooking people


in from an early age, the government has invested over £1bn of National Lottery and Exchequer funding into a new five-year youth sport strategy – a sporting legacy strategy to increase participation levels among 14- to 25-year-olds.

a sporting legacy Our sector is vital to the engagement of young people in physical activity and quite frankly, in the context of the sporting legacy – they need us! Once school sports facilities – sports

halls, artifi cial pitches and swimming pools – are opened to the public, our operators and exercise professionals have the expertise to exponentially increase participation rates by replicating their business plan within these facilities. We can also tie in to the new school

community sport clubs, as well as helping to tackle the drop-off in participation that can happen when young people leave school, by off ering an alternative to traditional sport – energetic, on-trend exercise classes such as Zumba, for example. However it is our involvement with two

particular areas, highlighted by Lord Coe for their importance, that resonate with me and prove how our sector will support the delivery of the sporting legacy.

private partnership Lord Coe emphasised that one of the great legacies already from the Games has been the involvement of the private


uring the short period of elite competition, the Olympic and Paralympic Games will captivate

sector, buying into the vision set out by the bid in Singapore and taking it into a practical landscape, such as Sainsbury’s sponsorship of the School Games. Our recent Legacy Ready

Summit reiterated the need for partnerships across all sectors to capitalise on a nation united by the 2012 Games. T is is seen as a way to grow levels of participation in physical activity by linking consumer awareness of big brands, and their resources, with the know-how and drive of the health and fi tness industry. T e FIA has already been

facilitating such partnerships – through the Responsibility Deal and the Physical Activity Network – to gain scale and shared expertise and bring the business community into the funding and delivery process of physical activity. We need to work with the people

More private funding and partnerships could help boost youth sport

who have the capacity, competency and motivation to grow participation, rather than working solely on the basis of archaic structures which have not produced an increase in participation levels and which the fi tness sector has now outgrown. Our recent partnership between Sky

and Shiſt into Sports is a prime example of corporate involvement to increase participation. T rough the programme, Sky off ers its shiſt workers opportunities to enjoy low-cost physical activities at a time that fi ts with their shiſt pattern, and the sector sees an increase in footfall during traditionally off -peak hours.

let’s get digital Lord Coe acknowledged that it’s getting tougher all the time to engage and excite young people in sport. T e Olympics and Paralympics off er a good opportunity to do this through great British performances, but crucially the need to

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engage the next generation is through new media – digital, social media, which is the way young people consume and create information and content. We need to use new media to make sure that sport sits centrestage within their lives. Data taken from Ofcom’s Internet Use

and Attitudes Report 2011 states that, within the 16- to 24-year-old age group, 90 per cent claim to use the internet regularly, 87 per cent have a social networking profi le and 68 per cent visit a social networking site every day. As young children are increasingly made familiar with more aspects of the internet from an early age, they will become more confi dent internet users in the future, using it for both work and leisure-related function. We need to accept that sport is in the

dark ages when it comes to technology. We currently invest tens of millions of pounds every year in buildings and volunteers, but have no technology strategy to bring sport into the 21st century. All this is scheduled to change as the FIA starts to work with Sport England on new technology platforms and digital prospects to deliver part of the health legacy for the nation.

february 2012 © cybertrek 2012

Health Club Management is the FIA’s Public Affairs Media Partner


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