By Ted Powell
It’s a difficult time for both professional and grassroots sports clubs across the UK. Whilst a limited number of professional and grassroots sports have been allowed to restart their activities, many remain unable to resume due to the pandemic. As a result, Sport Wales have announced a £4m fund for grassroots sports clubs and a further £4.5m for professional bodies to prevent clubs from folding.
The “Be Active Wales Fund” aims to boost community sports clubs and help them reopen safely. Grassroots clubs can apply for grants of between £300 and £50,000 to help pay rent, utility costs, insurances or any fixed costs they may have for facility or equipment hire. Welsh Government funds and repurposed National Lottery cash are being used. The importance of community sports clubs was made very clear in our roundtable report “Coronavirus: The Sport Perspective”. We spoke to key figures from across the sport sector who agreed how important these organisations were for all members of society and discussed the vital role sports clubs play in the lives of children, whether it’s ensuring teenagers avoid gang culture or simply keeping kids healthy. The “Be Active Wales Fund” is therefore likely to have a far-reaching positive impact on society by preventing these important grassroots clubs from folding.
In addition, a separate £4.5m fund has been made available for the Welsh Rugby Union, the Football Association of Wales, Welsh Athletics, Welsh Netball and local authorities. This will assist the professional bodies and teams who have lost significant profit due to the cancellation of fixtures.
Both funds are a significant boost for sport in Wales. At a grassroots level, the fund will help clubs meet their usual overheads as well as covering the additional expenditure needed in order to make their training activities and facilities Covid-19 safe. At a professional level, the fund will greatly assist clubs whose revenue streams have been significantly weakened by the cancellation of fixtures. It remains to be seen whether Sport England and Sport Scotland will announce similar funds, however, clubs should watch closely to see whether crucial support is made available.
If our sports clubs and groups don’t stay afloat or can’t reopen safely, we can expect another crisis – that of inactivity and ill-health. We must not let that happen.