Make no mistake, we are in a fierce battle for people’s time because people have never been busier and there are more opportunities than ever for them to choose how they spend their time. We therefore need to make sure we offer the best possible experience for those we attract to the sport and recreation sector as participants, volunteers or spectators, so they keep coming back for more.
To reach our collective potential in getting the nation active we must put people at the heart of sport and recreation and be diverse, safe and inclusive. Ethnicity, gender, age, social background or ability – none of these should matter, and we must make sure we are open and welcoming to all.
Huge strides have been made in several of these areas already across the sector, but there is still much more we need to do to encourage people from all walks of life to get physically active. As part of this, we need to be open to new ideas, new technology, different approaches and ways of thinking to make sure sport and recreation is at the heart of an active nation.
Our annual Sports Summit entitled “Putting people at the heart of sport and recreation” at Emirates Stadium is focused on us learning from different sectors about how they tackle some of these issues in their own work.
Take diversity as an example – it is still too easy to estimate the likely engagement of an individual in sport and recreation based on their demographic profile. Establishing a more diverse mix of individuals on boards across sport, which includes tackling the current gender imbalance, is one of the most effective ways to develop effective strategies to reach these traditionally under-represented groups. With diversity at Board level, you get a breadth of ideas and perspectives which you simply don’t get from a group of similar age, gender and social background, but how do you embed inclusive leadership in decision-making? We’ve invited Stephen Frost, a globally recognised diversity, inclusion and leadership expert to help answer that question, while sharing his experiences of advising the British Government, The White House, KPMG and the International Paralympic Committee.
We’ve taken a similar approach to safeguarding and cultural change with keynote sessions delivered by Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, the child welfare charity and Jens Boegh-Nielsen, Head of Sales & Marketing for Europe at the digital technology company Avanade, who will be sharing his thoughts on how to grow and maintain a performance culture which accepts change and embraces diversity.
I am a firm believer in learning from the very best, regardless of their background or sector and I’m excited about exploring how we can bring new ideas and thinking to the sector to make sure it is truly fit for the future.
I hope to see you at The Emirates on 24 May.
Just a reminder that there are still a few tickets remaining for the 2017 Sports Summit, you can book them here.