Sportshall partnership renewed

England Athletics is delighted to announce it has developed a renewed strategic partnership agreement with competition providers Sportshall Associates.

Both parties are committed to working together to grow the number of young people enjoying our great sport through increased competition opportunities in schools, clubs, and communities across the nation and to ensure that every young person across England can experience athletics as we work collaboratively to tackle the ongoing physical and mental health impacts of the pandemic.

Sportshall Athletics is an indoor modified athletics-based programme that was devised in 1976 by George Bunner and which is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of young people of primary and secondary school age across England each year. It is a priority athletics competition format in the nationwide UK Government funded School Games programme and has been the England Athletics endorsed participation competition format in the indoor setting since 2008.

Sportshall competition keeps young people engaged and motivated whilst providing a great opportunity to recruit and train volunteers as event managers, officials, and leaders. The competition format is also enjoyed by clubs across England with regional finals culminating in a national finals day every year.

This renewed partnership demonstrates a shared commitment from both organisations to demonstrate the importance that running, jumping, and throwing plays in contributing to both the physical and mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

This union will refocus what has been a positive working relationship for a number of years and ensure the sharing of best practice, knowledge, resources, data, and applying innovation to create new competition opportunities to ensure that every young person across England can enjoy our great sport in the school, club, or community setting.

Chris Jones, England Athletics CEO, said:

“England Athletics is delighted to renew what has been a lasting and successful partnership with the Sportshall Athletics team for over a decade, but this latest announcement, during a home Commonwealth Games year, recognises the shared opportunities and challenges that we all face across sport in growing and retaining young people in organised activity against a backdrop of social and economic change.

“Sportshall provides a competition entry point to our sport for our youngest participants and a springboard into the more traditional forms of track and field. Coming out of the pandemic we have revisited how we work together in the realisation that our young people have been greatly affected during the last couple of years and we know that our sport can offer so much to so many in schools, clubs, and communities across the land.

“Athleticism is the foundation of physical literacy and provides young people with the building blocks to lead a lasting healthy and active lifestyle. Moving forward we will work more closely together as partners to promote our respective funetics www.funetics.co.uk skill based run, jump, throw programme and Sportshall competition format www.sportshall.org to develop the physical and mental health of young people and to embed athletics in schools for all young people of all backgrounds and abilities as the preferred accessible activity of choice.

“We are working to embed our exciting funetics physical literacy programme in more schools, clubs, and community organisations across England and from the introduction of these foundation skills, young people can deploy these via Sportshall competition whether that be within the club or classroom setting, against other clubs and schools in person or virtually. We share an ambition to grow the number of young people taking part in our sport but also to grow the number of schools and clubs delivering Sportshall.

“I am particularly excited about a shared focus on inclusion and ensuring that all young people are provided with the opportunity to participate. It is important to me that irrespective of age, ability, or background that our great sport is accessible to all and is fun for all. This partnership will help us deliver this ambition.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, current World and Commonwealth heptathlon champion, funetics brand ambassador and former Sportshall competition participant, has also put her support behind this partnership. She said:

“As a brand ambassador for funetics, I am excited by this renewed partnership with Sportshall Athletics that will encourage children and other youngsters to get active through competition, not just because of the benefits of regular exercise and what it brings on the physical health but also it improves their mental health and wellbeing too. I know first-hand of the positive impacts this competition format had on my all-round athletic development in my formative years.”

Tracey Francis, England Athletics Participation Programme Manager, said:

“I am genuinely pleased that funetics and Sportshall will continue to work collaboratively. funetics provides children with all the fundamental skills required to underpin the Sportshall competition format – creating more confident, happy, and engaged children through a child centric approach. We will now concentrate our efforts on developing a more consistent junior competition pathway, with shared and aligned resources and reward systems where we can harness the power of technology to make our offers more efficient and simplify the administration and co-ordination processes.”

Tom Bunner, Managing Director of Sportshall Associates, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with England Athletics once again. England Athletics has provided fantastic support to the Sportshall programme over the years, and we are looking forward to helping them develop the athletics pathway from the classroom through to competition. The renewed partnership presents an exciting new opportunity to help make sure that athletics is available to everyone across schools, clubs, and the wider community.”

Sportshall Athletics