“Almost everybody participates in sport and physical activity in a local community. It is important, therefore, that we recognise the needs of everybody who wants to participate in the future”.
That was the key message from an inspirational talk by Lisa O’Keefe, Director of Insight at Sport England, and one of the most influential people behind the development of the new strategy for community sport in England, ‘Towards an Active Nation’ .
On Thursday, November 18, over 120 students and staff from a range of courses at the School of Sport and Service Management heard Lisa illustrate the challenges that current students might face if they go on to work in sport. In particular, the audience was treated to a detailed analysis of how tackling inactivity, creating regular sporting habits and maintaining levels of sport participation is a high priority for the current government and Sport England.
Bringing a wealth of experience from her 16 year career with Sport England, where she has held numerous positions, Lisa explained how sports such as tennis, swimming and netball are changing the way they think about how to get more people participating or to work with people who might have stopped participating and offer them the chance to start again.
Lisa said: “It is absolutely essential that any organisation providing a sporting opportunity thinks carefully about the factors that influence people’s behaviours in terms of what enables or prevents them to participate in sport and physical activity”.
The session ended with an extended question-and-answer session where a number of students asked particularly challenging questions. Lisa answered every question with honesty and considerable thought.
At the end, many students commented on the quality of the presentation and how good it was to hear a senior professional talk about the issues that they will study and encounter if they go on to work in this exciting area.