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18/2/2014

£6 million funding boost for StreetGames’ Doorstep Sport Clubs Interview with Jane Ashworth, StreetGames CEO



ISCA member StreetGames in the UK announced an injection of £6 million in funding from Sport England for its doorstep sport programme this January, which is expected to increase the number of Doorstep Sport Clubs around the UK from over 300 to over 1000 by the end of March 2015.

 

Doorstep sport is an approach that has been at the heart of StreetGames’ activities since the non-profit organisation began in 2007. The secret of its success is its motto of delivering attractive physical activity offers to socially disadvantaged youth “at the right time, the right price, the right place and in the right style”, says StreetGames’ CEO Jane Ashworth.

 

A doorstep sport club is not a traditional, organised grassroots sport club as we often know it. It is an informal, yet carefully thought out according to the target groups’ needs, delivery of physical activity sessions by local community sport and recreation providers in a way that is most convenient for disadvantged youth to engage.

 

ISCA spoke to Jane about how Doorstep Sport Clubs engage socially disadvantaged youth around England, why these people are not necessarily “hard-to-reach” and whether the concept could work outside the UK.

 

Q. In StreetGames’ overview of doorstep sport it says “there is no shortage of demand” for sporting activities among disadvantaged groups. But how does StreetGames approach these communities, introduce the concept of doorstep sport to them and get them to trust StreetGames to deliver these activities to them?

A. Sport England research shows that disadvantaged youth have the greatest unmet sporting need. 70% of them say they want to do more sport. This, together with our own experience, encourages us to say there is ‘no shortage of demand’.

 

We do not parachute into communities – we work with existing agencies with pre-existing credibility. That might be a leisure centre, a community programme or a health agency. Some local authorities use StreetGames as their outreach method for taking sport to disadvantaged youth.

 

StreetGames helps existing community groups and leisure centres and other sports providers to construct a more attractive offer to the local youth. The method we propose – doorstep sport – is not alien to organisations that already have a base in a target community. Doorstep sport is not a far stretch for organisations that have seen play schemes or other community development projects.

We do not charge organisations to take part in StreetGames. That helps us to build trust with the organisations that deliver doorstep sport on the ground.

 

Q. Do you think the success of doorstep sport challenges the idea that disadvantaged groups are hard to reach?

A. Groups of disadvantaged groups are not hard to engage in sport. Doorstep sport is designed to be attractive to youth. Making the right offer will produce good results – we say that doorstep sport is delivered:

 

At the right time (when youngsters are available to play and not at work or in college or still in bed).

 

At the right price (General Household Survey shows that disadvantaged households spend approximately £2 a week on sport. Note that this is by household, not individual).

 

At the right place (doorstep sport is delivered in a familiar, safe space within the immediate neighbourhood of the target group– not necessarily in a space designed for sport).

 

In the right style (doorstep sport is informal and fun. It caters for good players, the dabblers or girls who don’t like sport very much).

 

Q. Is StreetGames looking at any opportunities to expand doorstep sport to countries outside the UK? What does it need to expand the concept further?

A. We would love to partner agencies that fancy doing their own version of doorstep sport. What is right in UK isn’t necessarily right in another country. I’m sure we have top-tips that we can share and I’m sure organisations in other countries have things to teach us.

 

Read more about StreetGames' grant for its Doorstep Sport Clubs here