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Social Return on Investment of Sport in Wales

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Executive Summary

The latest Social Return on Investment Study of Sport in Wales has put an updated monetary value on the benefits that sport brings to Wales as a whole. It has found that for every £1 invested in sport here, there is a £4.44 return.

Shining a bright light on the power of sport and how it plays a crucial role in creating not just a healthy nation, but a happy, confident and connected one, the study highlights that sport contributes a staggering £5.89bn in social value to Wales. This comes through a range of areas including health, subjective wellbeing, social capital and volunteering.

The full report can be seen below.


In February 2023, Sport Wales commissioned Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), in partnership with Loughborough University, to carry out a Social Return on Investment (SROI) study of sport in Wales.  The research builds on a previous SROI study for sport in Wales (2016/17). It is centred in the policy context in Wales, taking into account the Vision for Sport in Wales and the Future Generations Act.

Sport Wales is the national organisation responsible for developing and promoting sport and physical activity in Wales at both community and elite levels. It is financed by annual funding from the Welsh Government and from income generated from its own activities.  It is the main adviser on sporting matters to the Welsh Government and is responsible for distributing Welsh Government and National Lottery funding to sport in Wales.  

The SROI study aims to measure and value the social impacts of sport in Wales. Its purpose is to enable Sport Wales to evidence the contribution of sport to stakeholders and support cross-government conversations about investment in the sector. As such, the study only includes social outcomes that can be robustly evidenced, to ensure a high level of rigour.

Summary of the Social Return on Investment of sport in Wales

Background and context

Sport Wales is one of 44 public sector organisations which are subject to the Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which is legislation requiring public bodies to put sustainable thinking and partnership working at the heart of their working, to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. The Act requires public bodies, including Sport Wales, to work towards seven well-being goals, which are: 

  • A prosperous Wales
  • A resilient Wales
  • A healthier Wales
  • A more equal Wales
  • A Wales of cohesive communities
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language
  • A globally responsible Wales

The Vision for Wales spells out how sport can help contribute to the well-being goals and transform Wales into ‘an Active Nation where everyone can have a lifetime enjoyment of sport’. Moreover, the Sport Wales Strategy, Enabling Sport in Wales to Thrive, outlines how the Vision will be achieved.  In both documents, the potential benefits of being active are outlined, with the latter drawing on evidence from the first SROI for sport in Wales. This study will provide updated evidence to support these policy documents. In particular, the SROI will provide evidence to help demonstrate the value created through sport in relation to 'A healthier Wales', 'A Wales of cohesive communities', and ‘A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh Language'.

While this research builds on the previous SROI of sport in Wales from 2016/17, and similarly uses an SROI framework, it includes different social outcomes, thresholds of participation, and in some cases, different valuation techniques. As such, the results from this study should not be directly compared with the previous SROI. 

Defining sport

For the purposes of the study, the research team were guided by the definition of sport provided in the Council of Europe’s Sports Charter (1992), which defines sport in its broadest sense to include:

“...all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.”

The study includes all formal and informal sports, and physical activities considered to be active recreation, such as fitness activities, dance and recreational walking. However, it excludes household activities not rooted in or related to formal sport and exercise, such as gardening. For the purposes of this study, we also exclude active travel.