Briggs Calls for More to be Done to Grow Participation in Sport Across Scotland

Sport is crucial for both the elite end, as seen in the Commonwealth Games and the recent successes of the Scotland Rugby Union team in the Autumn internationals, and at the amateur level, where people play for fun. However, under the SNP, there has been a stagnation in participation rates among adults, which underlines the reduction in net revenue funding reduction since 2014/2015.

The Sport for Everyone Report (27 November 2017), from the Health and Sport Committee, illustrated that there has been also a fall in the number of volunteers since the fabled Commonwealth Games and its ‘Active Legacy’ was announced. This can be seen as according to Statistics for Volunteer Scotland, there has been a fall from 31% of all adults (1.2 million people) in 2010 to 27 per cent. The reduction in volunteers has as expected a knock-on effect for participation in sport, with most coaches volunteering out of interest and skills. Along with this fall, there has been a stagnation of adults participating in sport with 63% of adults playing sport in 2015, while the number was 62% in 2012 and 64% in 2013. The participation fall has wider ramifications with the benefits of playing sport helping the NHS with health and mental health benefits for patients participating in sport.

The SRU has been seen as one of the successes with its initiatives to increase the participation of girls and women playing rugby union in Scotland. Through the use of publicity, profile and marketing campaigns, including Women in Sport, there has been a 35% rise in the number of teams over the last 18 months. This success needs to be not just seen in one body, but across the wider regions of Scotland and in deprived areas.

With the SNP only having two hours of sport in the school curriculum, it is not enough to get children into wider sport, who lack either the time or expense to compete and try sport. However, the Scottish Conservatives outlined their policies to improve the sporting arena and in turn the NHS in the Healthy Lifestyle Strategy (January 2017). It recommends P.E specialists in every school and a community mentoring programme for those who want to pursue an active development role. Furthermore, due to the cut in net revenue funding, the Scottish Conservatives would instead audit the use of out-of-hours school use and set up a Sporting Access Fund for those in low-income families. 

Miles Briggs comments:

“It is deeply concerning that the number of Scots involved in sport has not improved over the last 10 years, despite billions of pounds of investment.

“Playing sport has many benefits including physical health, mental health and teaching important life skills. The Scottish Government should be doing to more to encourage people into sport as well as making it accessible to everyone.”


Miles Briggs