MSPs have warned a lack of volunteers and coaches risks the legacy of next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
In a report on “Support for Community Sport”, the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport committee has expressed its surprise “at the lack of detailed information on the scale and skillset of the volunteer workforce”.
“Given the emphasis placed on the legacy of Glasgow 2014 and its potential for bolstering participation, a stronger sense of ‘where we are’ might be expected.
“The committee therefore recommends that Sport Scotland, in conjunction with the relevant sporting associations, co-ordinate an examination of capacity as a matter of urgency.”
The committee goes on to declare it is “concerned” too few governing bodies have developed volunteer strategies, whilst asking ministers to update the committee at the end of the year about the number of newly qualified coaches needed to address an envisaged increase in demand for sporting activity post-Games.
Calling on Scotland to “grasp the opportunity to change Scotland’s relationship with sport”, the committee’s convenor, Labour’s Duncan McNeil, explained:
“First of all, the committee wants to commend all those that volunteer. Without them there would be no community sport.
“Our committee heard that Glasgow 2014 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure a sporting legacy for Scotland. This is a commendable goal but rhetoric won’t become reality if we don’t have the volunteers there to provide the coaching and run the clubs, or we don’t make the most of existing facilities.
“This inquiry wasn’t about how we find the next Andy Murray but recognising that sport has the potential to play a transformational role in our communities. For this to happen we must grasp the opportunity to change Scotland’s relationship with sport.”
In welcoming the report, a spokesman for Sport Scotland explained it was already addressing a number of the recommendations made.
In explaining further announcements on the issues raised will be made “later this year”, he said:
“We are already engaged in developing many of the report’s recommendations.
“We recognise that volunteers in sport are invaluable and the recruitment, retention and training of volunteers is a priority, which is why we have progressed the ‘Volunteering in Sport 2011-15′ framework in conjunction with Volunteer Development Scotland.
“A key component of the sporting legacy from Glasgow 2014 is community sport hubs and there are currently over 60 hubs in operation across Scotland.
“By 2016, there will be 150 across all 32 local authorities in Scotland, with at least 50% of these based in schools, providing more and better opportunities for people to engage in an active, healthy lifestyle.
“We are engaging with sports clubs throughout Scotland and will be announcing a further initiative later this year.”
The report went on to express concerns 25% of children leave primary school unable to swim.
• Olympic legacy? What legacy? – December 21st, 2012