Now is the time – Sport Making a Positive Difference

Part 1: Sport Making a Difference During and Post COVID-19 Pandemic

This 4-part blog series is targeted for basketball club leaders who have a passion for positively changing lives through sport. The aim of the blog is to engage clubs in a new way of thinking about sport whilst they are in a period of reflection.  Over the last few weeks many clubs would have hit survival mode, but now with a sense of control, for the moment, it should be a time to reflect and plan for the future.

During COVID-19, we have seen sport make a positive difference in communities and accelerating its image as a force for good. But how can sports clubs help rebuild communities post COVID-19? Given its prominence in national strategy, positively changing lives through sport is an area that clubs may wish to consider taking forward during and after the pandemic.

Recreational sport/physical activity may come out of this with greater value than it did before, if clubs support communities to overcome public barriers. To date, it has been the number one tool for people to keep on top of their mental and physical health during isolation. It could be the time for sport clubs to enhance their standing in their community and the wider public eye by continuing to do their ‘social good activities’. I was recently on a webinar to Cumnock Juniors Community Enterprise, who stated they have been delivering food parcels to at risk people in their community. Continuing meaningful work like this will no doubt positively enhance the clubs standing in their community, leading to different benefits, one of which could be new paying members being attracted to the club.

Through this series of blogs, we will go on a journey where we will introduce the concept of changing lives through sport and by the end, we will encourage you to tell your story by showing you how. All the way through the blog, we will give you small video examples of clubs in Scotland from a range of sports who are actively changing lives through sport to show how it looks in reality.

What are the Changing Lives and Social Enterprise Concepts?

A social enterprise is a business approach which blends the social impacting nature of the third sector (you don’t have to be a charity to be effective in this area) with the business acumen of the commercial sector providing sustainability to the organisation. It is an approach delivering social purpose and at the same time, commercial sense. To put a specific sporting sense to this, we call this ‘changing lives through sport’.

Unlike typical social enterprise organisations, sporting organisations have the sport element to combine with the third sector nature and business acumen (which we call organisation effectiveness). That is what makes this concept unique and tremendously rewarding when it is pulled off.

Take the below Venn Diagram as a simple way to summarise this approach.

Check out the Spartans Community Foundation here, and notice how they link to these areas:

Sport: This is what has traditionally and prominently brought your people together, to take part in this activity. Traditionally, football brought Spartans together.

Social: This is the area of your approach which makes an intentional and positive difference to people in your community and can be linked to the ‘impact piece’ to the social enterprise model. The Spartans example have a range of social projects, including youth work.

Organisation effectiveness: This is the sustainability piece to your club’s approach, utilising the business acumen and commercial knowledge within your club. A sound business model and effective planning mean the Spartans have resource to meet their vision.

At the intercept of this model, is changing lives. A club must address in all three of these sectors: developing sporting opportunities; building their social impact; and, creating a sustainable business model.

Why Now for Changing Lives Through Sport

When we are able to return to sport, we will do so to a vastly different landscape. Financial challenges will increase with local and national budgets stretched, potential reductions in grants, fundraising and traditional membership income. New and different approaches may be required. Social enterprises as clubs (changing lives through sport), will be a concept which will support income generation and most importantly, act as vehicles to provide community services that our economy can no longer support

The Real Time Example – Falkirk Junior Bike Club

We will bring you examples of basketball clubs to these blogs, but there is also value in demonstrating what other sports do in this area. Falkirk Junior Bike Club have raised £10,000 for Strathcarron Hospice. In addition to this, they have created a ‘Passport’ for young people, to learn skills and reflect during this period and beyond. Have a look at this video and take some inspiration.

If you want to discuss anything in this blog, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: