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5 Jan 2021 | 18:18

The Sport for Development Coalition is encouraging organisations using sport for wider outcomes to again "adapt and modify" where possible so they can continue to support the communities they work in following the announcement of new national lockdowns in England and Scotland. 

Sport England have updated their guidance on what the new restrictions, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday evening, mean for sport and physical activity in the country – including various funding pots which remain available to organisations – with Sport Scotland expected to follow suit shortly following confirmation of a new lockdown from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier in the day.  

England's rules will be reviewed on February 15, while Scotland's will be reviewed at the end of January. Meanwhile Sport Northern Ireland has extended the deadline for its sustainability fund to January 20, and Sport Wales recently updated its guidance, as lockdowns – which started at Christmas – continued in those nations.


The restrictions are designed to limit the spread of a new variant of Covid-19, which is up to 70% more transmissible than the original virus and has quashed hopes of a return to frontline delivery in early 2021 for organisations across the Sport for Development Coalition’s network, and beyond. 

During previous lockdowns, organisations across the Coalition demonstrated their ability to adapt and modify to continue to support communities who were amongst the most affected by restrictions brought on by the pandemic. Read how football club community organisations, under the EFL Trust umbrella, adapted during last year, with more examples here from across the sector. 

Andy Reed, Chair of the Coalition, remains hopeful that the coming year can provide a return to some level of ‘normality’, with a full-scale vaccination programme now under way.


“We fully recognise that these tough but necessary new restrictions will further impact the outcomes being delivered by organisations across the Sport for Development sector,” he said. 

“This is a heavy blow for everyone who was hoping for a brighter start to 2021. Nonetheless we know that, thanks to their ability to adapt and modify over the last year, many of the organisations within the Coalition will continue to support the communities they work in. 

“We can only admire the phenomenal resilience and innovation that they continue to display, and encourage them to stay focused, if at all possible, on the prospect of a return to the safe delivery of their programmes within the coming months and an increased role in the recovery process.” 


The Coalition will continue to support and encourage sport for development organisations that may be struggling due to the pandemic, and signpost them to funding made available recently, such as the £16.5million ‘Return to Play Fund’ which is part of Sport England’s £220million response to the crisis. This fund prioritises projects located in areas of high deprivation, including rural areas, and is now open for applications. 

In addition the Government has announced a new £16.5million fund to support grassroots and youth organisations affected by pandemic restrictions. The Youth Covid-19 Support Fund, which will be open to grassroots youth clubs and national umbrella organisations, aims to help mitigate the impact of lost income during the winter period due to the pandemic, and ensure services providing vital support can remain open. This fund is part of a broader package of £750million of funding for Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Organisations to respond to Covid-19. 

Other funds can be accessed via the websites of the national sports councils here: 

Sport England 

Sport Northern Ireland 

Sport Scotland 

Sport Wales 

In November, the Sport for Development Coalition announced it was launching a targeted programme of research, support and communication to track the ongoing impact of sport for development, assist supporter organisations to exhaust all options around funding and other support that has already been made available and quantify the medium and long term support required from government and other funders to sustain and enhance the outcomes delivered by these organisations. 

Andy added: “We remain fully committed to working on behalf of the Coalition with Government, stakeholders in the sector and partners in the community.  

“We recognise and applaud the current support available to the sector, but are clear that further ringfenced assistance will be required in the medium and long term to maximise the important role sport and physical activity can play in a nation’s recovery.  

“To support this process we encourage any organisation using sport to generate positive social outcomes to sign up to our Charter and join the movement.”

The Coalition is keen to showcase examples of how organisations across the sector are responding to the new guidance, and support calls for collaborative working and collective action. To pitch your article, email slansley@sportfordevelopmentcoalition or follow @SFDCoalition on Twitter.