ERASMUS + Project
1. Motivation for the project
Baumann and Cardoso (2016) reported to the European Commission (DG EAC) High Level Group (HLG) on Grassroots Sport about all respectable academic studies to be pointing to significant economic benefits from grassroots sport through positive impact on health, crime prevention and social cohesion. stating that although the enormous benefits of grassroots sport, defined as regular physical activities for social and health reasons are well known, no large scale and sustainable concept has been developed. The report called out for further research into sustainability. The need for a large scale and sustainable concept for grassroots sports has been further stressed by political leaders and research reports.
It was also stated that further research was needed in order to make recommendations for sustainable funding opportunities.
The HLG defined Grassroots Sport as follows:
“Grassroots sport is physical leisure activity, organised and non-organised, practised regularly at non-professional level for health, educational or social purposes.”
The need for a large scale and sustainable concept for grassroots sports has been further stressed by political leaders and research reports. The president of Finland, Sauli Niinistö has repeatedly and most recently on August 24th 2016 expressed his concern about the lack of social cohesion in Finland.
2. Needs analyses
Encouraged by the reports to the Commission, Liikkukaa – Sports For research has been interested in researching the sustainable funding opportunities for good practice and the quality of the service delivery by the providers of sports opportunities, we asked the questions why no large scale program has been implemented so far and how sustainable financing for grassroots sport could be achieved.
The research has been conducted by Liikkukaa CEO Christian Thibault in 2016, under the guidance of the Helsinki School of Business. The data was collected through survey, interviews and from secondary data.
According to the findings challenges and opportunities are in 3 categories: Structures and Agency, Motivation, Resources.
There seems to be no true agency for grassroots sports in order to promote physical activity for health and social reasons and to coordinate between the different sectors involved. Efforts are wide spread and uncoordinated and do not reach a sufficient part of the population in order to make an impact on the large scale. The project and uncoordinated nature of almost all the efforts made so far and the lack of definition, do not support the development of sustainable structures and networks.
We can identify 3 main groups in the population, those who are physically exercising on a regular basis already, those who would like to exercise but get de-motivated by obstacles like costs, lack of possibilities, bullying and racism in sports and poor service quality in sports and those who are not interested, or even reject physical activities, the latest group being the most important in order to achieve an impact on the public economy. Full awareness of the topic seems to be lacking on most parts. The project nature of almost all the efforts made so far, does rather de-motivate than motivate in the long run.
Demotivating factors, as identified in this research should be erased and efforts for motivating the most needy groups should be financed. Facilities need to be provided on a sufficient level and expertise should be maintained and developed. Social media, electronic tools and apps should be made use of in order to promote physical activity for social and health reasons.
Diversity training and other sensitizing training should be provided and attended on every level in the structures. Minorities should be empowered and their participation should be secured on all levels.
Costs in the health and social sector caused by lack of physical activity compared to the costs of motivating those in need to embrace a more physically active lifestyle and to offer sufficient methods and opportunities.
There is a sufficient amount of good practice reports. The best practices should be analyzed, common factors identified and quality marks developed. The results should be branded for large scale use and promoted through an agency
3. Impact of the project
The aim of the project is to develop and transfer innovative practices in the area of Grassroots Sports for equal social participation and combating racism between various organisations and actors in and outside of sport. The partners will develop their network both between each other on a European level and in their home countries. The aim is also to promote sustainability in the partners innovative practices to support prevention of racism and marginalization, to tackle violence and intolerance in sports.
The expected outcome of the project is that the partners will have exchanged, streamlined and upgraded their practise models, methods and approach in conducting Grassroot Sports and combating racism. They will have extended and improved their networks on regional, national and EU level in order to contribute to the identified needs reported to the Commissions High Level Group by Baumann and Cardoso.