Sport England fund new campaign to put the ‘fun’ back into children’s sport

‘Play Their Way’ was launched at BMX Peckham on Tuesday (Getty)  (Getty)
‘Play Their Way’ was launched at BMX Peckham on Tuesday (Getty) (Getty)

Sport England have part-funded a new campaign targeting children’s enjoyment in sport, called ‘Play Their Way’.

Research from the Active Lives Children survey from Sport England discovered less than half of children who regularly exercise strongly agreed they enjoyed taking part in sport.

The number, was down from the pre-pandemic level of 51%, and it also found that more than half (53%) do not get enough exercise.

Launched by the Children’s Coaching Collaborative ‘Play Their Way’ intends to work with England’s 2.6 million coaches to build a grassroots movement aimed at increasing and improving child-first coaching.

“Positive experiences for children and young people are at the heart of Sport England’s Uniting the Movement strategy – and child-first coaching is an important part of this,” Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive at Sport England said.

“Our research tells us that for children, ‘fun’ is the primary reason for taking part in sport and activity. They will want to take part if they enjoy it. It’s vital that we put fun and enjoyment at the centre of sport and activity, and give our children and young people the chance to shape their sporting experiences to boost activity levels.

“We look forward to working with our partners and supporting the amazing coaches across the UK. We want to give all children the chance to have their say – and play their way.”

‘Play Their Way’ was launched on Tuesday at the Peckham BMX club (Getty) (Getty)
‘Play Their Way’ was launched on Tuesday at the Peckham BMX club (Getty) (Getty)

Sport England invests up to £300 million of National Lottery and government funding into projects and programmes to help people get active, especially in targeting inequalities to help those who do little sport.

“Play Their Way applies equally in all sports. We happen to be at Peckham BMX today so that’s cycling – I’m a football coach so it’ll work for me. Any sport that you can name, the coaches in there can use the materials and the inspiration of Play Their Way,” Phil Smith, executive director of partnerships for Sport England told The Independent.

“It’s National Lottery money so it applies to the entire country and any coach I think would benefit from its help.”

He added: “There is a significant drop off in sport in those teenage years, that’s true of girls and boys – more girls, but we are closing the gender gap I’m pleased to say.

“But kids drop out primarily because they’re not enjoying it anymore. Now there are loads of reasons, there are exam-pressures, travel, there’s lots of things that happen when you’re a teenager that mean that you might not choose sport.

“However, the single biggest reason for dropping out – so kids tell us – is lack of enjoyment and Play Their Way aims to address that.

“This is child-first coaching, so the idea is you give kids a voice and you give them a choice – this is what kids would do if there was no adults in the room – so hopefully it’s a great hope to coaches who are out there all day, every weekend and evenings up and down the country – Play Their Way is a help to them to put the enjoyment into those sessions and keep kids coming back.”

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