Still too many barriers to participation in sport say MSPs


A Scottish Parliament committee examining the levels of participation in sport says there is still work to be done in encouraging more people to take part in grassroots sport, over two years after Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games.

The finding is included in an interim report of the committee’s inquiry into barriers to sport participation, the Commonwealth Games legacy and barriers to sport.

Members of the committee visited Community Sports Hubs around the country and the committee also carried out a survey of over 3,000 people to gather views as to why people either do or do not participate in sport or physical activity.

The biggest barrier to participation was a perceived lack of time. A shortage of local facilities and cost were also seen as significant barriers.

The survey revealed that females (25%) were almost twice as likely as males (13%) to not take part in regular sport or physical activity.

Feeling self-conscious and carer or family commitments were the leading reasons of non-participation for females.

The report highlights the essential contribution of volunteers in supporting physical activity programmes and sports clubs. In particular, the report praises the Active Schools programme in encouraging young volunteer school pupils to help run activities for younger pupils. The Committee says that this increases the likelihood of local activities becoming sustainable. The report also praises the role of local champions in removing barriers to participation in communities around the country.

However, the report paints “a mixed picture” on ‘active legacy’ outcomes from the Commonwealth Games being achieved, but says that no previous major sporting event has resulted in an active legacy and that the Scottish Government was unlikely to meet this target.

Achieving an “Active Legacy” through excellent sporting infrastructure increasing access to sport and increased levels of sporting activity across Scotland was a key driver in Scotland’s bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The report highlights disappointment that support for volunteering at the games has not been converted into increased ongoing volunteering. The committee says volunteers are essential to the running of community sports programmes and clubs.

Neil Findlay MSP, Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, said:

“The Committee has seen some excellent work being undertaken by enthusiastic volunteers in communities across the country, but it is clear that there’s still more that needs to be done to increase levels of participation in sport and physical activity.

“It is disappointing that the tremendous enthusiasm of volunteers in supporting the commonwealth games has not been converted into a legacy of ongoing participation in voluntary activity, especially in sport. The Scottish Government may wish to look to the Young Leaders programme in the Highlands as an example that could be rolled out across the country.

“It’s also disappointing to learn that there are still issues around accessing the school estate and that this valuable resource is not being utilised to its full potential.”

During the inquiry, MSPs carried out visits to community sports facilities in Aviemore, Kinguissie, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The committee took evidence from a range of experts and sports and activity providers.


This is an interim report outlining the committee’s findings so far on its ‘Sport for Everyone’ inquiry. The committee will consider its approach to the next phase of the inquiry shortly.

In the Highlands the Young Leaders programme has opened doors to many young people who wish to develop skills in sport or physical activity leadership. Young volunteers from primary 6 through to S6 and beyond are supported via the programme to develop their confidence in leading and coaching and are encouraged and supported to gain qualifications.

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