Sport for Good
Posted: Tue, 01 Sep 2020 12:27
Active Oxfordshire's CEO Paul Brivio reflects on the current situation the world of sport finds itself in and what we must do to prevent the unthinkable to happen:
In all my 40 years in this business I have never know anything like the crisis we are still experiencing. It has been tragic and disturbing throughout and some fear there is more to come.
There have also been many uplifting things- the collaboration that has taken place; the empathy for the vulnerable that community support groups across Oxfordshire have shown, the lengths people have gone to look after each other; the incredible contribution Marcus Rashford made to feeding children in the summer holidays and the contribution sports stars have made to the fight against racism.
We have all come to appreciate the things many of us take for granted- families; gardens, physical activity, meeting people, kindness and good health too. For too many people not all these things are available to them and our most vulnerable people are the ones who have suffered most of course.
If things are not difficult enough it has been even more distressing to see allegations of abuse at the elite end of one of our biggest participation sports, poor and unsavoury behaviour (allegedly) by some sports "stars" and the focus on money, money, money full stop.
At a time when many indoor facilities remain closed to the public and sports clubs are struggling to play, I just want to say that sport is a force for good in our society. It is played and run by and for people- so will always be flawed/imperfect but it is still a vital part of the fabric of this county and the country as a whole.
If grassroots sport is a movement, then elite sport has become a business. At the top end of sport decision makers (often "owners" now) will find a way to make it happen even if it means empty stadiums. At the bottom end, reliant on volunteers, coaches and enthusiasts, life is so different and we are going to need to work together to get facilities open safely; to get our sports clubs back in play safely; to get our communities walking, cycling, exercising and moving again safely so we connect; engage and feel good again.
At its best sport is fun; it is enjoyment; it is social; it can be about team; it can be about doing/being your personal best… and yes, it involves winning and losing as well.
If we are careful Covid-19 will kill grassroots sport and that will have a massive impact on our young people as well as on the dynamics of our local society- the very thing we have suddenly remembered makes us what and who we are.
These are hard, hard times but we need people with vision and belief to make the right long-term decisions now to nurture and develop something that binds us together and makes things better across the length and breadth of Oxfordshire.
The Great British Week of Sport is a campaign delivered by ukactive, and funded the European Commission, that promotes the benefits of sport and physical activity. This year it takes place from 19 - 27 September. Please get behind this and join a celebration of all that is good about sport.
On Monday 21st September, the focus will be on the importance of physical activity for mental wellbeing through Mind's Mindful Monday initiative. This just shows how sport and physical activity connects and makes life worthwhile. Worth remembering!