New Sport Minister Mims Davies has set out her vision for sport’s role in UK society at an event marking the launch of UK Sport’s Future Strategy for performance funding.
In a wide-ranging speech in Westminster, Davies laid out her priorities, which include a greater emphasis on physical literacy in schools; increased visibility of women’s sport on television; and UK leadership in the area of international sport governance and integrity.
Announcing changes to the UK Sport performance funding system, Davies said: “As we look to fund a wider range of sports, over a longer period of time, it is important that these sports inspire and represent our diverse society.
“Let’s not be afraid to invest in the potential reach and success of currently unfunded sports too.
“We all want our children to grow up appreciating great sporting success, regardless of who is playing it and where.”
She added: “As we leave the European Union, we continue to work closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for International Trade, to make the most of the incredible contribution sport gives to our international profile and our vision for Global Britain.”
Davies also called on organisations across the industry to work together and each “do just a bit more” to help improve access to sporting opportunities, citing the OpenActive data initiative as a “big focus” for the coming months.
She issued a rallying call to the industry, saying: “Absolutely everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits that taking part in sport and physical activity can bring.
“I want our children to be inspired by sport. I want them to see as many sports as possible, and understand that sport is for everyone.
“I want them to discover new sporting heroes and be caught up in the excitement of top level sporting action. Together we can achieve all of this.”
The Minister was speaking at the launch of UK Sport’s new funding strategy – the product of a year-long independent Public Consultation and a series of evidence sessions with key stakeholders.
The new strategy, which will come into force in April 2021 for the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic cycles, will see three tiers of funding that will channel investment into different stages of the performance pathway.
Under the new system, Podium and Podium Potential investment streams will be separately assessed, ensuring long-term funding of programmes is not dependent on short-term success.
Meanwhile, a third tier, “Progression Funding,” will extend support to more sports and more athletes further down the performance pathway.
The move has been interpreted as a shift away from UK Sport’s “no compromise,” medal-driven approach of the past, which was among the subjects addressed by the consultation.
Almost 5,000 people submitted responses, with 61% agreeing the current medal winning strategy is the right approach to investment in Olympic and Paralympic sport in the UK.
Commenting on the exercise, UK Sport Chair Dame Katherine Grainger said: “As an investor of significant public funds, it is right UK Sport should ask the general public whether we should continue aiming to inspire the nation through medal success and whether we could change our focus in any way.
“The findings have allowed us to create an exciting blueprint for the future of Olympic and Paralympic sport in the UK and put the athlete at the heart of everything we do.
“We are confident the new strategy will help sustain medal success while enabling more communities to be inspired by the power of high-performance sport.”
Speaking in Westminster, Grainger and UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholls gave further detail on nuanced findings related to the “inspiration” effect of medal success within UK society.
Grainger also cited an ambition to make “social impact” a criterion for future performance funding awards.