Humans of Grassroots Sport | Richard Raynes
24 April 2019 • By - Will Chrimes
Read time 2 minutes
SportInspired Co-Founder, Richard Raynes, joins our Humans of Grassroots Sport series to chat about the power sport has to shape the future of youngsters.
SportInspired harnesses the power of sport to show children, youngsters people and communities that with the right belief and support they can achieve great things.
I saw firsthand the impact that sports has for social change through a Kids Rescue Rugby scheme I ran in Shoreditch for six years. The Shoreditch Sharks did many incredible things for the local community and I was blown away by what the club was able to achieve for its players, which were some of the roughest and toughest kids in the area.
It was enlightening seeing these groups learning how to respect the coaches and more importantly each other. Life skills were being picked up through rugby and perhaps the best element was how engaged the parents became once they saw the results of the sessions. Parental support is vital to really deliver a legacy for the kids.
SportInspired launched to build on these educational aspects and also make kids living in deprived areas aware that there is a sport for everyone. A mix of frustration and inspiration formed our philosophy.
I was amazed to hear how many kids thought it was football and nothing else. We set about making it easier to connect people with the vast amount of sporting activities which are out there.
A touch naively I initially thought linking sports clubs and schools in the local community would be enough. I quickly found out there was much more support needed to ensure the programme delivered for the long term.
UBS offered its support and allowed us to move the project forward, where our mission is always extolling that fun is the best reward you can have from sport. Bringing people together for sports helps shift social barriers, whether these are real or imagined.
The first step is introducing the kids to the range of sports that are available. If someone says they haven’t found a sport they like, my response is that they haven’t tried enough. This negative thinking often arises from the memories we have from school sports and being picked last, or not at all.
It’s vital these age-old traits are kicked to touch. Sport Inspired is retelling the grassroots sports story by shifting the focus away from being the quickest, most skillful and strongest to just being the best you can be. Kids who try new sports from scratch can take that mantra into society and challenge themselves in other areas with proof they can do it.
SportInspired sets up the grassroots clubs in deprived areas to make it as easy as possible to be around sport. Part of our work centres on talking to schools and showing evidence that a small bit of funding will make a lasting legacy for these kids. Active and open relationships with providers and schools is pivotal to success.
Logistics add to the mix to ensure these established relationships remain. Getting kids to the sessions and clubs is tricky as it relies on parents having time to do the fetching and carrying. We try to run the clubs in as accessible place as feasibly possible. Mental support for the kids is even more important and that’s why I was so happy to see the parents becoming more influential in the early Shoreditch Sharks days.
Sport has been the constant driver for change. As humans, we are designed to be active and moving your body through activities both excites and challenges us. Sport also has that draw to millions across the country and has the power to improve lives.
SportInspired aims to give kids self-belief and once they have it, we encourage them to harness it for the now and look at what the future might entail with a positive outlook on life. If you don’t feel you’re worth anything, then it’s hard to see even beyond the next day. Feeling like you belong in a team or club does wonders for confidence.
Grassroots sport stereotypes need to be addressed, it must appeal to everyone. Currently there is too much focus on the fastest, most skillful and strongest players. We must be inclusive and the best way we can do this is through applauding any kids involved in sports, whatever they achieve.
I am not saying we shouldn’t reward players with trophies and ignoring those doing well, but being the best you can be needs to be seen in the same light of success.
Everyone is valuable and has something to contribute.
If you want to help children through sport visit https://www.sportinspired.org/Pages/Category/partners