Covid-19 has caused significant and unprecedented interruption to sport and physical activity in many forms. With sports clubs no longer to train or compete, leisure centres closed and a host of over organisations no longer able to continue their service there are difficult challenges facing the sector.
While not always possible, there are some examples of deliverers who have thought creatively about how they continue delivery or change their focus to enable them to maintain the positive impact they have on the communities they serve.
Natasha Mina and the Almaz Project
This Girl Can ambassador Tash Mina's work to empower and inspire people through sport transcends her own sport of Kickboxing. Tash shared with us how the current pandemic affected her role and how she responded.
"As a previously fully-booked kickboxing and yoga instructor in the county, lockdown meant that I had to adapt. Instead of allowing lockdown to equal slow-down, I have expanded by hand-picking two of the best female-focused instructors in the city. Together, we are The Almaz Project. We offer live online classes covering yoga, fitness, kickboxing and more. We have made it accessible to everyone, and operate on a donation basis with passes covering entire households instead of per person".
Consider how the current circumstances impact your deliver and whether you could use technology or other means to strengthen your position.
- Are you able to deliver your service via social media or other digital platforms?
- Could sharing your experiences of life, sport and physical activity during this period help maintain your engagement with your audience to keep all-important connection until you return to face-to-face delivery?
Marc Schulz kindly shared with us how the current ability to coach is, in some ways, allowing space and time tom reflect on the future of his business.
"All this 'spare time' off of the coaching field has given me the chance to reflect a lot on myself and how we as a business plan and deliver our sessions. It has allowed/forced me to understand social media and the powers of it a lot more and also given me the time to get a better understanding of creating and editing content and using the technology available, all of which will be used to great effect in the future years to come".
Consider whether your current professional circumstances provide an opportunity to reflect on what you do and how you do it.
- Is embracing digital technology an improvement area for you or your team, and could now be the time to take this forward?
- Are there other opportunities to learn and improve your skills during this period so that you hit the ground running when normal service resumes?
- Is there some flexibility now to review your business plan and consider whether you're on track or whether there are improvements you can make?
The LRS Learn at Home resources provide a great range of online content you may find useful in supporting all of the above suggestions and more. UK Coaching have also produced the following guidance for individuals and organisations delivering coaching online:
UK Coaching - Coaching People Online (PDF, 109 Kb)
Team Morale and Togetherness
At Leicester-Shire & Rutland Sport, our team have adapted to working from home, increasing virtual engagement with colleagues and partners as well as managing changing personal commitments. In a bid to also keep in touch socially, many team members have organised and engaged in brief weekly socials to allow time for informal conversation and laughs. Joe Hall, our Sports Facilities Development Officer, shares why this has been so valued:
"The current circumstances surrounding Covid-19 have been a lot for everyone to adapt to in terms of working from home, changing work areas and shifts in responsibilities outside of the office. It's fairly easy to work digitally with a lot of our work and the technology is great, but also being able to use technology to socialise with colleagues has been fantastic. There's a great team spirit in the organisation and I'd miss sorely miss that if we didn't have the social evening catch ups booked in regularly - so far we've had quizzes, Pictionary and even a race night!"
Sometimes, impacts on an organisation can be on more than just the level of custom or the completion of work tasks.
- What impact have the current circumstances had on staff morale and interaction?
- How can you maintain a sense of team and togetherness while physically distanced?
Managing your Memberships
The closure of facilities and cancellation of many activities has a significant bearing on what clubs and organisations may need to do to adapt their memberships as a result.
It's essential when considering this that you consider the appropriateness of such changes, whether they have legal implications or require changes to contractual arrangements. Consider how members are impacted by such changes and seek solutions which are supportive and beneficial for members - with their input too where possible.
- Could a membership be provided which allows access to an alternative service (for example, moving group exercise classes or nutritional support online)?
- Could voluntary donations be requested - from those who can afford it - to support your organisation during this difficult period?
- Could memberships continue to be paid, but with the fees being donated to a charity, such as NHS Charities Together?
- It may even be possible to combine several or all of the above options.
A range of resources are available via our Sports Organisation Support pages to help identify the business support available to clubs, businesses and other organisations.
Welland Valley Cycling Club
Cycling has proved increasingly popular and important over recent months but, for those participating formally via clubs and competitions, the impact of lockdown and social distancing has inevitably had an impact. Welland Valley Cycling Club are one club who have been proactive in their communication with members to provide clarity and encourage appropriate participation in line with national guidance.
"Welland Valley Cycling Club took the decision to suspended all events and activities on 16th March 2020. Importantly, cycling solo was one of the permitted forms of daily exercise during the first seven weeks of lockdown, something that all members are both most grateful for, and most respectful of.
On 13th May, following a virtual committee meeting, the Club issued a statement cancelling the rest of the 2020 season, but also making a commitment to stage as many 'pop up' events and training sessions as possible once Government and sporting governing body (e.g. British Cycling, Cycling Time Trials and We Are Cycling/CTC) guidance allows. Membership has been extended for all of next year, and anyone joining or re-joining the club this year will also benefit from membership through to Dec 31 2021.
The Club has hosted weekly group 'no drop' virtual cycling rides using the Zwift platform, and promoted a series of features and threads on social media to keep members engaged, including 'cycling question of the day' and 'picture of the day' posts from members and a series of posts taken from an ongoing project on the Club's rich and colourful history. Our younger Whizz Kids have been getting experience riding on the quieter lanes in the Valley, and our Youth Development riders have been training hard with support from their Coaches and from British Cycling.
There are so many people getting on their bikes for a range of work, necessity, exercise and leisure reasons as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our friendly local bike shops tell us they have never been busier. We look forward to playing our part in welcoming and reacquainting people to cycling, and in helping to promote cycling as an accessible part of everyday life for our local communities".
Chairman, Welland Valley Cycling Club
During the current pandemic, it's helpful to provide clarity to customers or members, but also to support them in maintaining a connection and sense of community where possible:
- Could you share a similar communication to your members outlining if they can continue taking part in their sport/activity and, if so, how they can ensure this in line with current guidelines?
- Have you created channels, challenges or virtual meetings to help member stay in touch and maintain a sense of community while they're unable to see each other in person?