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3.3 Logistical Challenges

One of the most common - and often initial – barriers referenced by participants were those concerned with logistical challenges. These challenges also seemed to be easiest to articulate by those interviewed. The sub-themes under this banner may seem rudimentary but can be profound in terms of their impact on the maintenance and development along a recognised sporting pathway. 


Be it organically, or, when asked to specifically reflect on barriers to maintaining within and progressing along a recognised sporting pathway, participants noted the challenges concerning travel and transport to sport (training and competitive settings). Whilst some participants were quick to note their short and facilitative walk to their sporting facility, many expressed their frustration at the distances and time required for their travel, citing 2-hour car journeys and 1.5-hour walks. Other participants explained how the inadequacy of coaches and more local facilities necessitated their travel to opportunities further away. Many participants expressed their gratification that their circumstances allowed them easy transport to and from their events, most often through their parents or lifts from other parents within the same club. However, some explained that they or others weren’t so fortunate. 

“Well, my parents can’t take me home after school. So, my friend drops me off but sometimes she can’t do it or something, then I can’t go, I just have to get the bus home, straight after school because I can’t get a lift” – FSM2, North Wales

The role parents play in transporting participants to and from sport, and the impact that it has on them was not lost on those interviewed, as it was understood that parents must travel significant distances and make sacrifices and compromises to their own commitments in order to facilitate sport participation.

“Well the times that my dad’s picked me up…it’s just inconvenient for him…Because he does like a lot of online work and then, when he has to pick me up, he has to like stop doing his work… and then it like takes a long time and he has to like drive far as well and usually when he has to pick me up from school, after I do [sport], it takes like half an hour to get home because of traffic” – FSM2, Gwent

Furthermore, participants seem to be acutely aware of parents limited time and their own wellbeing, including their need to balance seemingly competing sibling priorities and interests, often resulting in one of the siblings missing sporting opportunities. The consequence of such challenges often leads participants to seek alternate modes of transport, some of which are said to be impractical or costly. For example, rurality makes both lifts difficult and transport via taxi unrealistic. 

“I live quite far out the way. So, no one comes past, to pick me up…And even then, you’re looking at like, if I wanted to get a taxi, you’re looking at like fifty pound…So it’s just, it’s not worth it” – FSM1, South-West

Others explored the use of buses for transport to and from sporting events, however, some parents were said to be uncomfortable with such a mode due to their cleanliness and safety. This is especially true when the walk to and from the bus stop was understood to be dangerous. 

“My parents don’t like using buses…I could go on the bus but then you’ve had to like get to town, to get on the bus, to go to [sport], then go back to town, then walk back home and then it’d be dark by then and obviously it’s like a bit dangerous, when its dark” – FSM2, Gwent

The distance required to travel for sport, and the challenges involved with transport were said to negatively impact the participant in several ways, including posing challenges to the viable progression within a sport, to being overly focused on the logistics of travel as opposed to the performance and enjoyment of the sport itself. 

“I love playing [sport]…But it just means that, instead of focusing on playing [sport], I’m stressing about how I’m going to get there, how I’m going to get back…it doesn’t stop my love for [sport], but it’s just an extra thing to think about, when maybe it’s not where I should be focusing on” – FSM1, South-West

In fact, many participants were aware of opportunities available to them within a recognised sporting pathway, however, perceived that they were unable to capitalise on those opportunities due to the distances they had to travel. 

“I think it’s surprising how far away the talent hub is. I know most things are like near [city] but still, I was just kind of thinking, that would be a long drive”, FSM1, South-West

To make the most of these opportunities, some were resigned to the need to move house to be closer to the opportunity, though many acknowledged that this wasn’t a realistic prospect. 


Participants showed an awareness of the financial commitments necessary for participation and development within a sporting pathway, and the burdens and implications of those commitments. Often discussed was the expense of acquiring and replacing kit, the cost of camps and events, and the general fees involved in being associated with a club or recognised body. 

Some highlighted the financial burden that was placed on their family, with discussions going beyond the ‘ability’ to pay what is necessary, but the principle as to whether it was the right thing to fund.

“[It’s] not that we can’t pay for it, because my parents have money, they’ve got really good jobs, I’ve got money myself from people, but like I’m currently, we’re in like three grand debt [with National Governing Body] at the moment…my mum’s like, well actually this isn’t realistic because my sister’s also in the pathway, so it is twice as much and for everything, two lots of kit…So it’s not that we couldn’t pay but my mum was like, well no, I’m, I’m literally not handing them over this sum of money” – FSM1, South-West

This discussion around the financing of sport(s) clearly weights on the minds of both participants and families, not only when deciding whether to stay and progress within a sport, but even whether to join and make a commitment to that sport in the first place. Often, there seemed to be perceptions around the expense involved in joining a club or opportunity in the locality. 

“If you’re actually joining a club, outside, you have to make the commitment and buy all the equipment and stuff like that, which I think is the biggest thing, because the club is probably really expensive, isn’t it, let alone everything else” – FSM4, Central South

Similarly, there was also perception that significant financial commitments would be required at the higher end of the recognised sporting pathway, and that funding support would not be available until these levels were reached. Participants also acknowledged that in the absence of that funding, high levels of [training and competition] performance would not be sustainable. 

Sadly, participants recount the impact of such financial worries as being “off-putting” when considering taking up an opportunity on the sporting pathway, or at worse, dropping out of the sport all-together. 

Participant Cited Solutions to ‘Logistical Challenges’

Though largely out of the hands of participants, several possible solutions were referenced which could help work around some of the barriers experienced. Firstly, as it relates to logistical challenges of transport, participants cited the benefits of friends’ parents helping with the transport to and from sport, and suggested schools and clubs work together on a lift-sharing scheme. Such a scheme would help in-part mitigate the barrier many face, where their parents cannot play a regular role in transport to and from the opportunity. 

Participants also mentioned the need for sports and schools to enhance their transport system and suggested that they actively work together to create efficient transport links to remove the burden from parents and participants themselves. Participants also spoke of the need to receive up-to-date information on the transport opportunities available. 

Several of the participants also spoke of the need of some sort of financial support from clubs / sports. Although they themselves would not ‘expect’ financial support, especially when lower down the pathway, many did suggest that such support would help the maintenance within and progression along the pathway, particularly in areas and for individuals in greater need. 

Lastly, participants noted the need for regular, up-to-date financial information to be shared with them and their parents. Specifically, clear and up-front details of the financial costs involved – often to debunk unfounded perceptions – and details of sources of support available would aid both participation and progression along the pathway. Moreover, the information provided would help negate the unfounded perceptions that some sports are comparatively more expensive / cheaper than others.