The desk review highlighted that there are many different reasons why some young people are not engaging with current sporting offers; spanning: individual factors, aspects relating to the social & physical environment they live in as well as factors related to the way organisations and institutions provide their offers. In particular, the research has highlighted, that for some young people the Pandemic has:
- Impacted negatively on their health and mental well-being; leaving some with low confidence and fitness levels; meaning they are nervous of returning or joining sports sessions
- Impacted on the family budget and with household bills set to rise yet further during 2022, the costs of taking part in sport is a real barrier.
Other barriers highlighted include:
- Access difficulties – due to closure of facilities, a reduction in extra-curricular activities, transport difficulties or a lack of kit/equipment
- Concerns around the formality and commitment required to take part in some sporting activities
- Concerns related to a lack of safe spaces to take part or feeling unsafe getting to and from activities
- Other competing commitments (work/study) or interests.
In terms of whether the sporting offer has changed and whether there is a need to move towards a more health and well-being / non-traditional offer the research has highlighted, that for many young people, sport is an appealing activity and a ‘hook’ to engagement. However, the research also highlighted, that young people clearly value sport’s wider benefits – and that it is the wider benefits of taking part in sport/exercise that are more likely to appeal and motivate attendance.
In summary, the desk review highlighted that the type of sporting offers that young people want, need to incorporate opportunities for:
- Young people to socialise, build friendships and connect with other young
- Young people to try new/ a variety of activities – for ‘escapism’, to have fun and to make the most of ‘freedom
- Enhancing physical health & mental well-being
- Young people to develop personally, build a sense of achievement and challenge – either through the sports participation itself, opportunities to have their voice heard or via competition, volunteering or leadership opportunities etc. As well as ensuring that offers address the structural barriers identified, such as costs, access and safety.