Keeping active makes us feel better. Not only is it great for our physical health, it has countless other benefits. Different types of sport and activity can reduce our chances of experiencing health issues in later life, helping us live longer. It brings communities together to socialise, improving our mental health, and can even help to boost the economy. Greater Manchester is very lucky to have such a variety of sport on offer, from an array of world-class teams to countless grassroots clubs. Together we should continue to build on this to ensure that everyone in the community benefits from becoming more active.
Research by local charity GreaterSport showed that in November 2019, 73.8% of adults in Greater Manchester were moving, equivalent to 1,649,900 adults moving for at least 30 minutes a week. Here in Trafford, this figure rises to 77% in February 2020. While this shows that people in Trafford love to move, certain groups, primarily those aged over 75 and people with disabilities, have lower activity rates than the general Greater Manchester population.
So how can community facilities serve to create a more active and united community for people of all ages and abilities in Trafford?
Keeping active allows people from all walks of life to come together, whether that’s through participation, volunteering, or spectating. In fact, Sport England’s Active Lives Survey November 2018-19 found that people who engage with sport or physical activity in these ways, are less likely to feel lonely. In a post-COVID world, it will be more important than ever to bring communities together to combat loneliness and build an even better community for future generations.
Of course, being active doesn’t have to mean engaging in competitive sport. It’s also important to create the conditions that allow the community to weave movement into their everyday lives. Encouraging use of public transport rather than individual vehicles is a great first step, as it gets people moving between modes of transport. But we needn’t stop there. Walking and cycling routes are not only great for our health and wellbeing, but they help the environment too. By making a simple shift to create community spaces with sustainable transport front of mind, we can future-proof sports venues so that they encourage the Greater Manchester community to move just a little bit more.
Greater Manchester has a brilliant history of producing world-class athletes, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that sporting talent doesn’t go undiscovered.
At any one time, approximately 60,000 athletes are in formal talent pathways, with even more in education or community clubs. Making sure that people of all socio-economic backgrounds see sport as a viable career and are given the same opportunities is essential. Placing world-class sport alongside community clubs, makes this possible. It will inspire people of all ages and background to enjoy individual or team sports, and work towards fulfilling their sporting potential.
A POSITIVE LOCAL IMPACT
Encouraging participation in sport benefits the individual, the community as a whole and it can also act as a catalyst for local economies. Sports facilities attract athletes and tourists alike, bringing increased footfall to the immediate area and providing opportunities for local businesses. They also offer a host of different job opportunities for local people, from facilities management to club co-ordinators and coaches.
Active communities are more productive. In Greater Manchester, the Gross Value Added (GVA) of sport is around £1.245m per annum. Therefore, investing in sport and activity can be fundamental in creating a healthier, more prosperous future for our community.
The Crossford Bridge Community Sports Village could contribute to Greater Manchester’s rich culture of sport and activity. By encouraging the community to lead healthy lifestyles, and making these facilities readily available to all, Sale can become a magnetic hub for sport in the North West and serve as a blueprint for a place truly shaped by the community, for the community.