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11 Dec 2020 | 9:09

Leaders from across the Sport for Development movement have urged organisations to come together and collaborate as they seek to position the sector “as an important asset for society in the years ahead”. 

Speaking ahead of the Coalition’s End-of-year Forum 'Spotlight on 2021' on Thursday, leaders from across the Sport for Development community have emphasised the importance of working together in a post-Covid world, and maximising the positive social impact of sport and physical activity. 

During the 90-minute Forum, almost 200 people from across the sector will take part in virtual discussions, input into live polls and interact with colleagues across the movement. There will also be a preview of the Sport for Development Coalition’s Impact Portal that will go live in 2021. 


“Together we are stronger,” said Ben Hilton, who is Chief Executive of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and one of the MC’s for the online event. 

“We learn, share, are inspired and collaborate to ensure that the beneficiaries we are here for, have the best outcomes in life. Together our voices are louder and collectively, we will raise local and national awareness of how sport and physical activity is vital to address inequalities.” 

Register for the Forum here.

Ben added: “The Spotlight of 2021 Forum will be a valuable opportunity to reflect and learn from each other. 

“We all know 2021 is going to be a difficult year for charities and the Sport for Development sector as a whole but closer collaboration and connectivity will be crucial to position the sector as an important asset for society in the years ahead.” 

Fight for Peace

Darcy Hare, Strategic Lead for Evaluation at Sport England, will also present at the Forum. Ahead of the event, she emphasised the importance of collective action. 

“Sport and physical activity can play a crucial role in improving people’s lives,” she said. “The Coalition brings together organisations with the common purpose of using this transforming power of sport. By combining our knowledge, expertise and experience, we can achieve much more than if we work separately. 

“The Spotlight of 2021 Forum will be a valuable opportunity to reflect on our approaches to evaluation and learning, and share ideas about how we can continue to build and improve what we do.” 

Dan Roan, sports editor for BBC News, and Sky News correspondent Martha Kelner are guest contributors at the Forum, with a particular focus on how the Sport for Development sector can win more media coverage, and raise awareness of the wider social outcomes of sport and physical activity. 


Ben explained: “Within the sector we know that sport and physical activity has a huge benefit but reaching outside of our current spheres of influence and amplifying our voice is crucial.” 

Lindsey MacDonald, Managing Director of the leading sport for employment charity Street League, will also help to lead the Forum. She believes the Coalition can play a crucial role for the sector as society seeks to recover from the pandemic. 

“The Coalition was established to enable sport for development organisations to come together and, most importantly, work together,” she said. 

“As society seeks to recover from the social and economic traumas caused by Covid-19, the Coalition can be our champion. Advocating for sport to play a meaningful role, communicating our collective impact, and making the case for investment.

Coach Core

“I’m looking forward to the Spotlight on 2021 Forum as it’s going to be a brilliant opportunity to look to the year ahead, plan, and think about how we ensure that sport and physical activity are at the heart of the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.” 

Rashida Salloo is the founder of Ready Steady Active, a community-based organisation in West Yorkshire which focuses on increasing participation and health amongst the South Asian community. She is encouraging more regionally-based organisations to sign up to the Coalition’s Charter and join the movement. 

“Sport for Development organisations have a big part to play in the health and wellbeing of our nation and even more so at this critical time as our communities try to recover from the impact of Covid-19,” she said. 

“It is vital we all work collectively to tackle the inequalities in our society to ensure everyone has access and the opportunity to benefit from being active and playing sport. 


“The Spotlight of 2021 Forum will be a valuable opportunity to bring people together, share real experiences and gain learning from a wide range of voices which will help shape the future of the sector. By joining in and working together we can all help release the untapped potential the sport for development sector has in making a real difference to the communities and the people we serve.” 

Lauren Asquith is the Chair of the Youth Sport Trust’s Youth Board and also helps to drive the sport and disability programmes of Derby Country Football Club Community Trust. She reflected on the importance of diverse governance and leadership ahead of the Forum. 

“Having a collective approach allows for messages to be amplified, learning to be enhanced and shared respectively,” she said. “Working in isolation will enable organisational change which is great but working as a Coalition enables societal change.  

“We’ve seen the power of collective movements particularly over the past nine months, using Sport for Development can bring sustained positive change for the future.

Chance to Shine

“The Spotlight on 2021 Forum will be a valuable opportunity to look collectively at challenges we have faced, celebrate successes and look forward to 2021, emerging priorities and tackling the future together.” 

Steve Nelson, Chief Executive of West of England Sport Trust (Wesport) which is the Active Partnership for the West of England also reflected on collective action. 

“Collective action is essential if sport and physical activity are to have the impact we know they can have,” he said. “No single organisation can solve the many challenges Sport for Development can contribute to solving!”

Register for the Forum here.