Scotland "must grasp the opportunity" offered by Glasgow 2014 urges Committee

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

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By Duncan Mackay

Judy and Andy MurrayJanuary 16 - A lack of coaches, volunteers and facilities may threaten the promised legacy from next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a report by Scottish politicans have warned after hearing evidence from witnesses led by the mother of Olympic and US Open tennis champion Andy Murray. 

The Health and Sport Committee have asked Government agency sportsscotland to coordinate an urgent audit of volunteers in sports clubs and groups throughout the country.

Local authorities are also urged to do more to provide access to sport facilities, particularly those in schools.

Glasgow 2014 is expected to result in a greater demand for sport but this will not be met without an adequate volunteer workforce of qualified coaches and accessible local facilities, the Committee reported.

Commonwealth Games and Sports Minister Shona Robison has been asked to update the Committee on progress with all aspects of volunteering in sport before the Scottish Parliament takes its summer break this year.

The concerns are outlined in the Committee's newly published report on an inquiry into support for community sport, which included evidence from Murray's mother Judy, a leading tennis coach, and former world 10,000 metres champion Liz McColgan.

Liz McColgan signing autographFormer world 10,000 metres champion Liz McColgan was among the leading names who gave evidence to the Health and Sport Committee

"First of all, the Committee wants to commend all those that volunteer," said Committee convener Duncan McNeil.

"Without them there would be no community sport.

"Our Committee heard that Glasgow 2014 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure a sporting legacy for Scotland.

"This is a commendable goal but rhetoric won't become reality if we don't have the volunteers there to provide the coaching and run the clubs, or we don't make the most of existing facilities.

"This inquiry wasn't about how we find the next Andy Murray but recognising that sport has the potential to play a transformational role in our communities.

"For this to happen we must grasp the opportunity to change Scotland's relationship with sport."

The Committee said that even with Glasgow 2014 approaching, there is a lack of detailed information about the scale and skills of the current volunteer workforce.

Access to school-based sports facilities has long been a cause of concern in certain areas of the country, anecdotally at least, the Committee said.

Scottish grassroots facilitiesThere are fears that there will not be enough grassroots facilities to deal with the influx of youngsters who want to try sport after Glasgow 2014

A spokesman for sportscotland claimed that they were already working on ensure that the country would benefit from the opportunities offered by Glasgow 2014. 

"We recognise that volunteers in sport are invaluable and the recruitment, retention and training of volunteers is a priority, which is why we have progressed the Volunteering in Sport 2011-15 framework in conjunction with Volunteer Development Scotland," said a sportscotland spokesman.

"A key component of the sporting legacy from Glasgow 2014 is community sport hubs and there are currently over 60 hubs in operation across Scotland.

"By 2016, there will be 150 across all 32 local authorities in Scotland, with at least 50 per cent of these based in schools, providing more and better opportunities for people to engage in an active, healthy lifestyle.

"We are engaging with sports clubs throughout Scotland and will be announcing a further initiative later this year."

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz
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