It is no secret that the rise in the cost of living is affecting households up and down the country, but it is also having a big impact on the sport and leisure sector.
We recently paid a visit to West Yorkshire club, Spenborough and District AC, to catch-up with Chairman Jake and Membership Secretary Kevin as well as local MP for Batley and Spen, Kim Leadbeater, to discuss the impact of the recent crisis.
The club is currently facing some challenges
“The club is facing the biggest challenge on the volunteer side” said Kevin, the club’s Membership Secretary. “We need more coaching volunteers due to the support needed for each athlete. We would like to maintain good levels of the coach to athlete ratio and to grow the club, we need to get more volunteers involved in coaching.
“Before the pandemic and financial pressures, we had a rota of coaches and they did maybe 1 or 2 nights per month, meaning athletes would get different coaches each week. Unfortunately, we have had a reduction, so we have not been able to keep this up.
“There are plenty of athletes and there is a real enthusiasm in the recovery from Covid for people who are looking to get involved in athletics, but alongside this there has also been less interest from people wishing to volunteer.
“People are looking at clubs to take on their children to train, get active in sport and involved in athletics, but they don’t see volunteering as something they want to get involved which happened more often before the pandemic.”
Financial challenges are spanning the sector
Industries all over the country are witnessing the same tightening of the belt as local MP, Kim Leadbeater, explained:
“Sadly, current rises in energy costs have had a huge impact on the sport and leisure sector, particularly with clubs who take part in facilities.
“We need these facilities, and we need grassroots sports clubs to survive. They are at the heart of the community, and support people’s physical, mental health and social wellbeing. We need to be able to resource the coaches and the facilities where people come together and keep these running.”
There is a real boom in the interest in athletics post-pandemic
Despite the challenges the club is currently facing, it is fantastic to see the interest in the sport of athletics remains.
“We currently have a waiting list of 30 to 40 young people looking to start at the club, if only we had enough volunteers to support them.” Waiting lists are common throughout sports clubs in the UK, even outside of athletics. Despite this frustration, it is positive to see children and young people returning or beginning their journey within athletics and discovering the love for a sport which can support them throughout life.
Advice to other clubs during the financial crisis and the pandemic
Despite the current challenges, club Chair Jake has taken some real steps forward in supporting the financial future of the club.
“In terms of finance, we have been hit hard especially with the year of no sport and the reduction in members training once we could come back to the club facility. To support our finances, we have looked to sponsorship from local companies. We have installed banners around our facility to bring in some money to support the club, whilst also getting the names of local businesses out there.”
Spenborough and District AC are currently redesigning their kit which is really exciting for members and volunteers alike. They are working with local sponsors and suppliers to monitor the costs whilst also supporting the club financially.
In addition to working mutually with local businesses, the post-pandemic recovery has also seen the club return to hosting events which is a fantastic way for the club community to get together, as well as see some financial return.
Volunteering is for everyone
The fantastic thing about volunteering at your local club is you can get involved in such a variety of roles, whether you are an athlete, parent, coach or passionate about supporting your local community.
Spenborough AC Chair holds many roles at the club, but you can get involved with as much or a little as you would like!
“I coach, officiate and am also the Chair of the club. It is a very rewarding thing to get involved with. You find a whole load of new people to be friends with and you learn new skills which can be transferrable to life. You are constantly learning without realising it and having fun.”
Get in to volunteering
If you would like to support your local community, there are plenty of ways you can get involved. Whether you want to coach, officiate, or become a club volunteer, we have lots of opportunities for you.
Are you brand new to our sport? Welcome! Find your closest affiliated athletics or running club.
- Clubmatters Webinar: Raising money to sustain your club — Monday 13 March, 7-8pm (free entry)
- Clubmatters Webinar: Dealing with increasing costs — Tuesday 21 March, 7-8.15pm (free entry)
- Club Hub: Finance and Fundraising Guide