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Lockdown – Will technology change Welsh sport forever?

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Sport Wales’ Digital Communications Manager, Paul Batcup looks at how lockdown has highlighted the urgent need to embrace technology in sport.

What a difference a couple of months makes!

Just weeks after pulling together an article highlighting the ever growing impact of technology on sport, our relationship with the digital world has been turbo-charged. 

While the only thing that seems certain at the moment is uncertainly - with sport seemingly going through a rapid reset - just like most sporting contests, we don’t know what the end result will be.



At Sport Wales the immediate priorities have been on keeping financial heads above water – the Coronavirus coming just weeks after floods caused by Storms Ciara and Dennis - motivating people in Wales to keep active in the lockdown, and keeping our partners updated. All of which have relied to using technology to various degrees.

But what about the future? 

Whatever the coming weeks and months bring, I’m more certain than ever that technology could make the pivotal difference to surviving and thriving.

For me personally, a regular run or bike ride has been a lifeline for my physical and mental health.

The online community has been another lifeline.

I’ve pinched some great home workouts from accounts on Twitter and Instagram, and tried out some of the excellent sessions on our own Sport Wales #BeActiveWales pages.

And I’ve joined millions of others, as well as Benji the dog, on the yoga mat and loosened up with Adriene on You Tube. I was amazed - but not surprised – to read an article estimating the Texan guru’s channel could make as much as $188,500 per month on advertising revenue alone. 

It was then I got to thinking, there will be winners and losers from lockdown – the ones who have already embraced (or are acting quickly to embrace) technology as a way to engage their members and customers, and the ones who haven’t stepped off the starting blocks.

David Lloyd @Home


Put simply, thriving sport clubs and organisations will be able to package up their offer differently, while also engaging their members and customers in a way that’s informative, fun, emotive, inclusive, supportive…and take them feel part of something bigger – a community.

Technology can help us achieve all these things.

I saw a great quote from a club that: “you should focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do”.

And there are some great examples of that (and I hope you can share your examples with us).

A few of them have stuck with me:

  • Clubs providing sessions online, such as Gower Riders’ Zoom sessions, that keep regular engagement with members and provide support to keep fit and active.
  • This table tennis club in Brighton (yes, I nicked this from colleagues at Sport England) that has embraced the sense of community with their own daily show.
  • David Lloyd Clubs’ @home membership that sustains some commercial income while their facilities have the shutters closed.
  • Clubs like Pontardulais Golf Club that are utilising their kitchen and providing hugely popular takeaways for the local community. Reading the Facebook Reviews really brings a smile.
  • The Next Bike scheme in Cardiff has looked to cement it’s place as a vital contributor to the travel network, and boost its brand reputation, with their latest offer.
  • Our Club Solutions resources has far more examples as well.

Using technology can seem a scary prospect but it is often simple application that works best – parkrun being my absolute favourite example. There’s a wealth of information online, while it’s often best to learn from others as they’ve probably made mistakes along the way too.

So, here’s one certainty for you… and leisure in Wales is going to look drastically different in the future, and technology will play a central role.

There will need to be a shift in thinking. Communications and technology have been historically under-resourced in sport in many areas, both from a people and financial perspective. It’s hard to see how that can continue.

Every sporting club and organisation needs to look at how technology can help them engage their members, support commercial income, improve efficiency, help their volunteers, or provide activity that compliments or grows their approach.

Survive or thrive…sport and technology has stepped up in importance in just a few weeks. We can’t afford to ignore it.

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