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1. Executive Summary


Little is understood as to the current challenges that inhibit individuals in Wales moving from school and / or grassroots participation in sport through to a recognised sporting pathway.

Therefore, the following project sought to understand what currently inhibits 11 – 16-year-olds progressing from school or grassroots participation to a pathway recognised by a Welsh Governing Body?


The project favoured a qualitative approach, making use of focus groups and creative methods to understand participants journey through sport and the support they require, the barriers they had and were likely to encounter while moving through the sporting pathway, and their knowledge of specific sporting pathways. 

The 2022 School Sport Survey was used to identify potential participants, and 25 focus groups were delivered, speaking to over 125 male and female grassroots participants, across eight schools, five regions, three free school meal quartiles, and six sport categories. 


Participants cited several perceived barriers which currently or potentially inhibit their progression along a recognised sporting pathway. Barriers were organised into the following themes and sub-themes:

Disagreeable Experiences(Lack of) EnjoymentSport CultureThe Physical EnvironmentPersonal Relationships
Competing PrioritiesEducationSport CommitmentsOther Interests and Commitments 
Logistical ChallengesTransportFinancial  
Absence of Coping SkillsHarnessing Motivation and CommitmentDealing with PressureDealing with Poor PerformanceDealing with the Physical Demands
Unfavourable PerceptionsWhat the Sport Can OfferPathway AwarenessPathway Perceptions 


Barriers to progression in a recognised sporting pathway are varied and complex. Therefore, listening to the voices and lived experience of young people is critical in understanding how best to enhance the sporting pathway, and, in designing appropriate changes and interventions which have the participant at their heart.