During the Covid lockdowns, many of us struggled to keep up with our previous exercise routines – limited to one hour of sporting freedom per day, team and community sports were either stopped all together or worse confined to the zoom. Now that we can continue with clubs and courses, the focus needs to be on grassroots sports.
So why is this so important?
Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of illness and disability in the UK. The NHS recommends doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week. Evidence tells us that love of exercise is habitual and is often developed at an early age. Many local communities offer youth sports teams, from soccer to netball, and this is a great way to build fitness and self-confidence. The FA published an article discussing the importance of grassroots football and stating that “the participation of children in football contributes to the reduction of 66.5,000 cases of depression and anxiety and 213.5,000 cases of childhood obesity “. this statistic underlines how important it is for young people to play sports.
Mass sports also have a great social impact. Playing a sport has been shown to have an extremely positive impact on mental health, as being part of a team, following rules and setting goals builds confidence and can help in other aspects of life. . Doing something with the people around you can give you more confidence in other tasks. Sport can also help unite communities and provide a safe space outside of school for young people. Exercise improves memory and brain function in all age groups and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression.
The opportunities for girls in mass sports have improved dramatically in recent years thanks to new campaigns such as ‘This Girl Can’ which was launched in 2015 and has since provided funding and encouragement to donate. all women have opportunities in sport. UEFA reported that 80% of teenage girls who play football feel more confident in their everyday life. Although clubs struggled to open up during the covid, opportunities for indoor sports such as table tennis and volleyball are more important than ever. The impact that sport can have on the confidence of young girls is invaluable and we must continue to grow.
To conclude, I recently visited a local southern club rugby club where grassroots sports are clearly alive and well for everyone, while I was there a boys training session was taking place as well as a rugby tournament for girls. The club also offers senior rugby enthusiasts as well as a team of veterans. Local clubs like this are a perfect example of how people of all ages can come together to celebrate sport and support the local community. Supporting clubs like this and encouraging everyone to participate is invaluable for physical and mental health, grassroots sports can unite communities and inspire countless people. What other reason do we need!