Sport for Development Coalition supporters are getting ready to play their part in two important week-long campaigns this month.

Firstly UK Coaching will lead Coaching Week 2020 between September 14-20, followed quickly by the ‘Great British Week of Sport’ from September 19-27.

The theme for this year’s coaching week is ‘Support your Coach’ and, following a difficult year for the sport and physical activity industry, UK Coaching is asking the nation to make a #GreatCoachingPledge and share their thanks and support for the country’s coaching community.

Sport and physical activity has been integral to the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic by having a positive impact on people’s mental and physical wellbeing, and the coaching workforce has been instrumental in supporting communities across the UK to stay active over the last four months of lockdown restrictions.

UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said: “Coaches have been absolute heroes keeping us active, connected and motivated both before the pandemic and during the period of isolation and disruption caused by the lockdown.”

She added: “We know some grassroots coaches – and elite too for that matter – are struggling with the perceived lack of support right now, so we want to ask the public and anyone who benefits from sport and physical activity to say thank you and pledge their time to support their coach or coaches.

“As restrictions are eased and more of us return to play, we will turn to coaches and expect them to integrate new controls to keep us all safe, so let’s ensure that we recognise and support our coaches across the UK for the vital work that they do.”

To find out more about how to make your #GreatCoachingPledge, visit

The social outcomes of sport and physical activity will be high on the agenda during the first ‘Great British Week of Sport’ from September 19-27. A series of events across the week will showcase a variety of sports and activities which help people of all ages to be more active and enjoy the mental, social and physical benefits.

ukactive, in partnership with Sport England, the Government and the European Commission, will work with a host of partners to deliver activities supporting a range of audiences throughout the week, using the hashtag #BeActive on social media.

These include the leading Sport for Development network StreetGames helping to bring sports and activities to children, families and young people, and the mental health charity Mind working alongside a number of its regional network hubs to demonstrate how being active can help to mitigate factors that cause us stress and anxiety.

On Tuesday 22 September, ukactive will team up with RED Together, a national movement that encourages people to get active every day in order to improve their mental health, and the following day will mark National Fitness Day with gyms, leisure centres and sports providers offering free activities for visitors to try.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Chair of ukactive, said: “We are delighted to launch the Great British Week of Sport, celebrating everything that’s great about our passion for physical activity and sport.

“We are living in challenging times, which makes it all the more important we celebrate the incredible spirit and unity through sport and activity that makes our communities stronger.

“Every day, taking part in physical activity and sport brings people together in a way that is very unique, making our gyms, leisure centres and sports venues part of our social fabric.

“The Great British Week of Sport will show that physical activity is available to everyone, no matter what your background, age, gender, race or ability, and that being active together is an amazing thing.”

To find out more about how to get involved, including to register at events and download the free digital toolkit, visit


Join Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth for a live webinar

Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth will host the next live webinar in a series focused on the organisation’s forthcoming strategy.

During the live broadcast, the CEO will discuss the current sport and physical activity landscape, particularly in light of Covid-19. He will talk about the challenges and opportunities for sport and physical activity, and how this relates to Sport England’s next strategy. 

The webinar will take place on Thursday 10th September (1100-1200). You can register for it in advance via this link.

Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth is joined by Andy Reed, Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition, for a webinar in early 2020

The webinar will feature live subtitles, and Sport England will also record and release a copy of the webinar if anyone is unable to join the broadcast live.

For those attending, there will be an opportunity to submit any questions for Tim and the Sport England strategy team.

In addition to the webinar, there is still an opportunity to feedback on Sport England’s strategic framework, which can be found at the bottom of this link.


The Sport for Development Coalition is delighted to welcome the creators of the ‘Muslim Girls Fence’ project as special guests for its next monthly Twitter takeover.

Muslim Girls Fence is a collaboration between Maslaha, the charity which creates new ways of tackling long-standing issues affecting Muslim communities, and the national governing body for the sport, British Fencing.

The Twitter takeover will take place on Tuesday 1st September (8-9pm). During the takeover, our guests will answer five pre-prepared questions from the Coalition [@SFDCoalition] and followers are invited to engage and interact with the conversation using the hashtag #SportForDevelopmentCoalition.

Don’t forget to use the correct prefix to tell us which question you are answering, so A1 for Q1, A3 for Q3 etc.

Muslim Girls Fence brings together the sport of fencing, conversation and creativity, and is open to all women yet centres on the needs of Muslim women. Participants attend a series of fencing classes and immersive creative workshops designed around topics of conversation chosen by them and on their own terms.

The partnership began in 2015 and has since grown from working in schools to working with community groups across the country, including in Birmingham, Doncaster, Bradford and London. The project is supported by Comic Relief and Sport England.

The partner organisations recently published the ‘Beyond the Buzzwords’ report which looks at learnings from the project.

The report seeks to look beyond the buzzwords of ‘engagement’, ‘outreach’ and ‘diversity’ and aims to ‘bust’ the myth of ‘hard-to-reach communities’ within the sport and wellbeing sector.

It states: “Muslim Girls Fence is complex. The project connects activities — sport, art and discussion — that are usually practised separately. It is offered to Muslim women, but is also open to all women. Its list of objectives ranges from the concrete (increased levels of fitness and wellbeing) to the aspirational (changing perceptions in the mass media). All this is complex, but it works.”

Read the report.


Coach Core has revealed the damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the apprentices that it supports, and on the employers that underpin its award-winning work with young people.

The charity’s apprenticeship programme aims to give young people aged 16 to 24 the chance to become sports coaches, and it does this by placing its participants with suitable employers.

However 78% (39 out of 50) of the apprentices surveyed between June 26th and July 15th revealed they had been placed on the furlough scheme, which sees the Government pay part or all of their wages while they stop working. This is compared to a national average of 27% of employees being furloughed across all types of companies.

Furthermore, with the lack of summer sports provision and the uncertain return of schools in September, 56% (18 of 32) of sports organisations employing a CoachCore apprentice have made, or are considering making redundancies.


Perhaps most worryingly, 66% of employers asked said they would be unable to commit to taking on an apprentice in future.

Gary Laybourne, CEO Coach Core, says the survey results reflected employers’ need to revert to “short-term solutions” to manage their response to the crisis, when they could potentially be considering the power of apprenticeships and young people as a way of rebuilding long term.

“The effects of Covid-19 are far-reaching and have impacted on all of our lives for many months now but with our attention firmly on the wellbeing of our young people and their employers, we were saddened but not surprised to see that this has impacted them more than most,” he said.

“To see young people reporting that they fear for their futures, while employers indicate a need to revert to short-term solutions for their workforce, paints a very worrying picture – particularly when this is mirrored with recent ONS statistics showing the disparity of employment opportunities that 16 to 24-year-olds increasingly face across the UK.


“However, we are determined to change this. Never before have apprenticeships presented such a clear and impactful way for organisations to recover and for young people to change their futures short and long term.”

CoachCore revealed the results of the survey in a report using the hashtag #PlayTheLongGame.

Gary added: “We are urging employers to truly reflect on their workforce strategies, short and long term and in all areas of the business, and to understand fully that apprenticeships can provide their organisations with greater diverse skillsets and insights, as well as creating real economic and operational impact both inside the business and in the wider community.”

The charity, which won the ‘Enhancing the Workforce’ category at the 2020 London Sport Awards, has committed to carry on providing online learning for the young people on its programmes, delivered by a variety of sector leaders and corporate partners, in order to continue their professional development.

It is also redoubling its efforts to support those participants on apprenticeships, helping them to remain engaged, in work and able to complete the programme.



Pic credit: Newcastle United Foundation

A football-based programme aimed at improving the mental health of adult men is to benefit from a new ‘social prescribing’ fund announced by the Government this week.

The ‘Be a Game Changer’ scheme run by the Newcastle United Foundation has already supported over 2,000 men, typically over 40 years old, who traditionally avoid NHS services, may have been impacted by Covid-19 and are most at risk of suicide.

Local men are referred to the programme by their GPs, and the plan is to build on the scheme with other football clubs through the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) which has been awarded £5million by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Other projects that the NASP will be working with include art for dementia, improving green spaces and singing – all aimed at helping people to stay connected and maintain their health and wellbeing following the pandemic. The NASP will be supported by partners including Sport England and NHS England.


Steve Beharall, from the Newcastle United Foundation, said: “Working with the academy and social prescribing link workers will enable us to reach more people, to help communities recover from Covid.

“We’ll be sharing our ‘Game Changer’ learning with other football clubs, to support men’s mental health.”

The Foundation also supports fans to talk about their mental health, get involved in walking football, engage in support groups and learn lifestyle advice through the ‘12th Man’ programme. Social prescribing link workers in GP practices will refer people to these initiatives so that more people can benefit.

Welcoming the funding, NASP chief executive James Sanderson, said: “Now more than ever, the pandemic has shown the value of social prescribing in helping people to stay connected, feel supported and to maintain their wellbeing.


“The National Academy for Social Prescribing has an ambitious agenda to support people to live the best life they can by accessing support in their local communities based on what matters to them.

“We will be working with key partners across national and local government, the NHS, and the voluntary and community sector to build the support structures necessary to enable social prescribing to thrive.”

Minister for Health, Jo Churchill, commented: “This new funding is hugely important, as it will allow us to build on the merits of social prescribing and encourage innovation in local projects, as well as supporting people to remain connected with their local community, reduce loneliness and improve their wellbeing.

“GPs and social prescribing link workers have been working incredibly hard to support their patients through this challenging time. As we begin to support the move out of lockdown, social prescribing will be key to tackling health inequalities and helping people recover and rebuild their lives.”



Pic credit: Belong Network and Youth Sport Trust.

The Belong Network has published new guidance for strengthening cohesion and integration through sport.

As lockdown lifts, communities are rediscovering the benefits of people gathering to engage and connect socially in local sport and physical activity. Programmes that utilise the power of sport to strengthen cohesion and integration will be an important element for communities as they rebuild, reconnect and recover from the impact of Covid-19.

The new resource from Belong, which is a Cohesion and Integration Network, offers a user-friendly approach to measuring both the individual and community-wide impact of a project on social cohesion. It breaks down outcomes into short and long-term measures, and outlines the conditions and context for maximising the possibility of improved social cohesion in a project’s design.


Belong say it will build the confidence of commissioners, funders and delivery programmes so that their efforts and resources are more likely to bring about longer term change in our communities.

Jo Broadwood, Chief Executive of Belong: The Cohesion and Integration Network said: “We are really pleased to be launching this guidance as people begin to re-engage with community sports activities.

“This document will support all those organisations who want to harness the power of sport to strengthen social connections and trust between different groups.

“Sport has the potential to play a vital role in building social cohesion locally and we are really grateful to Spirit of 2012, the Good Faith Partnership and all the expert sports delivery organisations who have collaborated on this project.”


The guidance has benefited from the insight and expertise of a wide range of contributors and is the product of a unique collaboration of researchers from the Good Faith Partnership, expert sport and physical activity practitioners (including StreetGames, London Sport, EFL Trust, Youth Sport Trust and Sporting Equals) and has been supported with funding from Spirit of 2012.

Ruth Hollis, CEO of Spirit of 2012 said: “Sport has the power to bring us together like few other activities – both as spectators and fans, and as participants. Spirit of 2012 was born out of a summer of sport that brought people together from all backgrounds and all walks of life in a powerful shared experience that united us all in that moment.

“We are proud to support this important resource that will help commissioners and deliverers of physical activity projects, and their communities, harness meaningful and lasting connections through sport.”

Download the new resource.


Pic credit: Sky Sports.

The outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) has been an experience shared by all but impacting on us very differently. Communities have been at the heart of the response and the sport and physical activity sector has in many cases played a major part in this.  

During the outbreak Sport England has been trying to understand and capture what is happening at a local level, how individuals are being affected and how organisations and communities are responding to emerging challenges.

During April and May it reached out to its wide range of trusted relationships to hear the reality of what was happening in local communities and how organisations were responding.  Through various discussion sessions it heard from individuals representing local delivery pilots (LDPs), local authorities, leisure trusts, active partnerships and its local government leadership programme.

From these discussions Sport England heard of the widening inequalities, financial pressures, community connectivity and need for organisations to act with agility and at speed. Pulling together ‘what we heard’, it has identified nine emerging themes that have been collated into its ‘Local Voices. Life During Covid-19’ resource. Sport England has brought some of these to life through stories from the front line and a colleague from the Pennine Lancashire LDP, Ken Masser, has given his personal take on life out there.

Discussions often raised more questions than answers. However, these questions can help to focus future thinking and provide points of reflection as the lifting of lockdown measures creates a need for communities to adapt yet again. Sport England say that listening to the ‘local voice’ will remain a priority and it is an important part of helping to inform the development of its new strategy.

Sport England would welcome your feedback on the resource and would invite you to be part of future conversations. Read more.


Ollie Dudfield

Ollie Dudfield has been appointed Executive Director of the Sport for Development Coalition.

Ollie joins the SFDC following five years as Head of Sport for Development and Peace at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The role has been created after new funding for the SFDC from Comic Relief, Sport England and Laureus Sport for Good was announced in May. Ollie will officially take up the role at the start of October.

The SFDC is a movement of charities, national governing bodies and networks who believe in the power of sport and physical activity to act as effective tools for intervention when generating a wide range of positive social outcomes. These range from tackling youth violence to improving mental wellbeing and increasing community cohesion.


Ollie is ideally suited to the role having previously led the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work supporting the organisation’s 54 member countries to maximise the contribution sport can make to improved health and wellbeing, economic development and employment, and creating more inclusive societies.

The Australian has spearheaded the Commonwealth’s globally-recognised initiatives on sport and the Sustainable Development Goals, and worked to support countries implementing national sport for development policies. This has included co-ordinating global efforts to measure and quantify the contribution of sport to the Goals. During Ollie’s tenure, the share of countries across the Commonwealth who have adopted new national sport for development policies and strategies increased by 20%.

“The impact of Covid-19 has intensified many of the most urgent social challenges across the UK,” he said. “In response, scaling the use and impact of sport for development has never been more urgent.

“I believe a collective, whole-sector approach is essential to achieve this goal, making the mission of the Sport for Development Coalition critical.

“The foundation laid by the Coalition’s membership and Board, coupled with the enhanced support of Sport England, Comic Relief and Laureus Sport for Good provides the building blocks to position a scaled, sustainable Coalition as a cornerstone of an impactful and world-leading sport for development movement.

“This is an exciting and highly important proposition that I am looking forward to contributing to.”

Ollie’s considerable experience in advising multiple United Nations and intergovernmental agencies, national governments, sporting bodies and civil society organisations on policy design and strategy made him the outstanding candidate for the role, according to SFDC Chair Andy Reed.


Andy said: “Ollie’s background and knowledge of the global sport for development movement, plus his work at policy level, made him the outstanding candidate for the role.

“He will now lead a small team tasked with creating momentum within the sector over the coming years, through a collaborative model that focuses on our three core aims of advocacy, impact and investment.”

  • Before working with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Ollie was General Manager at Vicsport, the peak body for sport and recreation in Victoria, Australia. Prior to that he was the International Development Manager for UK Sport, when the body helped to lead the UK’s international sport for development work, and has been a Board member for Basketball Scotland.
  • He has served as Chair of the Steering Board for the International Platform on Sport and Development and is a member of the Advisory Board for the International Safeguards for Children in Sport. He currently represents the Commonwealth on the Permanent Consultative Council of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Physical Education and Sport and Advisory Council of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights. 
  • Ollie started his career as a basketball coach and coach educator, working in the national systems in Australia and New Zealand. He is the author of multiple publications on enhancing the contribution of sport to human and social development.

The SFDC will initially be hosted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance as it develops its governance and organisational structure. More than 130 organisations have already signed up to the SFDC’s Charter, and the ambition is to grow the network to a minimum of 400 over the next four years.

The Coalition’s mission is seen as vital by Sport England, Comic Relief and Laureus Sport for Good in helping the sport and physical activity sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and complements the work each funder is already doing to support the sector at this difficult time.

For editors:

  • The Sport for Development Coalition is a growing Movement of charities, governing bodies, funders, networks and delivery organisations who all believe in the power of sport and physical activity to act as effective interventions tools for generating positive social outcomes.
  • For more information, visit or follow @SFDCoalition on Twitter.
  • For media enquiries and interview opportunities, contact 07736 162839.


ukactive has announced that National Fitness Day 2020 will take place on Wednesday 23rd September, with organisers promising it will be the ‘biggest unified celebration of fitness in the UK’s history’.

The annual day of physical activity takes on special resonance this year following the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

The theme for this year’s National Fitness Day will be ‘Fitness Unites Us’ with a focus on bringing together communities. Gyms, leisure facilities and activity providers across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will participate, with organisers hoping to see up to 10 million people being more active as a result of the day.


It will be supported by outdoor adventure specialist Bear Grylls, who will help kick-off the activities on the day. He said: “Now, more than ever, we need to help our communities to stay active, healthy and positive in the face of this global crisis.”

ukactive will again co-ordinate the day, mobilising more than 4,000 of its members to host free activities that get people moving. Regional events will be announced in the coming weeks, featuring a combination of safe and socially distant activities, and virtual activities available online via the National Fitness Day Activity Finder.

National Fitness Day 2020 will also form the backbone of the inaugural Great British Week of Sport, which will be officially launched in August.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “Physical activity has never before played such a vital role in our lives, highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Physical activity forms the fabric of our society, from supporting better community cohesion to improving mental health and wellbeing, reducing loneliness and anti-social behaviour, and boosting productivity in the workplace.

“National Fitness Day 2020 will truly unite us in recognising the myriad benefits that being active can bring to every person and every community across the UK, regardless of age, background, race or ability.”

Register your event, activity or offer at to promote to the public – when the National Fitness Day Activity Finder goes live.

After registering your event, you will have access to download the free National Fitness Day digital marketing toolkit. Use the toolkit to promote your event, activity or offer via marketing materials across facilities, communities and social media.


New research has laid out the blueprint to support teenage girls to take part in sport and to develop qualities that will support them throughout their futures.

The independent research, commissioned by Chance to Shine and NatWest, highlights the importance of building self-confidence amongst girls, motivating them through supporting others as well as giving them greater control of the activities that they take part in.

The research, conducted by the Centre for Sport, Physical Education & Activity Research (spear) at Canterbury Christ Church University, assessed the Chance to Shine Secondary School Girls Programme which worked with 1,700 specifically trained ‘Young Leaders’, with a further 2,200 girls taking part in after-school clubs in over 100 state schools across the country.


Sport England data shows that of secondary school age pupils, girls are notably less likely to be ‘active’ (42%), compared to boys (49%). Building on years of experience delivering in Secondary Schools, Chance to Shine developed a bespoke programme to support teenage girls to play cricket and, specifically, to develop their leadership skills.

At the end of the programme there was a ‘statistically significant’ increase in the number of girls who said they were active every day (from 34% to 39.6%). This was also reflected in changing the girls’ attitudes towards the sport, with just over three quarters (78%) saying that they ‘wanted to play more cricket than before’.

Young Leaders were first trained to take on coaching responsibilities in sessions and then supported to put those skills into practice in after-school clubs and organising and leading primary school cricket festivals. The research showed statistically significant growth in key leadership traits such as confidence, resilience and adaptability.

Laura Cordingley, Chief Executive at Chance to Shine, said: “At Chance to Shine we have seen how the power of cricket can support young people to develop the skills that will benefit them throughout their life. The core leadership principles that you can learn, like dealing with setbacks, adapting to changing situations and problem-solving, will all stand girls in good stead through their professional lives.

“The key is to get girls interested in playing sport and this research shows that our programme has not only got more girls active but it has helped them to understand and see the benefits of playing sport.”

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Chance to Shine has seen a significant decrease in fundraised income. Without much needed support, the charity may not be able to continue its work in secondary schools.

Read the research.