I seem to have spent this year talking about the value of grassroots sport within the contect of global competitions. It’s incredible.
This year I worked on the Rugby League World Cup looking at the communication of their social impact programme – and I am currently working at the National Football Museum on Manchester’s arts and heritage programme for July’s Women’s Euros. As footbally was my first sport, this is very exciting.
Having always been sporty and having worked in CSR for twenty years+ taking my CSR learnings and community engagement focus into sport feels natural. I believe in its value – and that’s without the research funded by Sport England showing the ROI on grassroots sport as 3.91.
I am full of admiration for Jon Dutton’s leadership of the Rugby League World Cup and of the robust social impact programme’s he and the organisation’s Head of Social Impact, Tracy Power, is leading. Both of them believe passionately in the power of sport to reach commuities. And both of them know it’s not just in CSR programmes that an organisation makes a difference. It’s in the makeup of the organisation itself.
The decision to hold women’s men’s and wheelchair rugby at the same time was a gamechanger for inclusivity. I witnessed the team having conversations about equality of broadcasting and identified community stories about the power of rugby league that deserve to be showcased to celebrate the everyday everyplace power of rugby league to make a difference in a community.
It was so inspiring to speak to volunteers in rugby communities to see the impact of a club – bringing a commuity together, fundraising for facicilities and delivering weekly moments of joy – so it makes sense for the RLWC to have had a capital fundraising pot to enable clubs to do more of this.
It was gamechanging to speak to some of the RLWC’s community partners – they’re working with Rugby League Cares, Commuity Integrated Care, Movember and UNICEF – to learn how the organisation is using the tournament to open opportunities to talk about mental fitness and to engage marginalised communities in the tournament in so many different ways.
That’s what I am currently doing with the Women’s Euros – opening up the tournament to choirs to learn the anthems, photographers to take pictures in fanzones, recruit and train hertitage volunteers to interview and record fans and past players about their experiences of the women’s Euros past and present. There are so many community organisations working on the tournament in Greater Manchester alone – it’s inspiring every day.
Sport is a massive part of our culture. As is volunteering. I’ll be communicating more on social during the Women’s Euros as part of my own archive of the events and I will be encouraging the heritage volunteers to do the same.
Watch this space (or rather @sarahegalligan)