Fun the priority of new coaching campaign to boost activity among young people

A new campaign aimed to transform the way children and young people are coached in sport and physical activity by prioritising enjoyment has been launched to help increase activity levels.

Sport England’s latest Active Lives Children survey found only 47 per cent of children who regularly exercise strongly agree they enjoy taking part, which was down from the pre-pandemic level of 51 per cent.

The survey, published in December 2022, also showed 53 per cent felt they do not get enough exercise.

The launch of the ‘Play Their Way’ campaign by the Children’s Coaching Collaborative will be led by the 17 partner organisations and is funded by Sport England and the National Lottery.

Research shows enjoyment is one of the biggest motivators for children and young people to help them get active.

The Play Their Way campaign will be dedicated to ensuring children have the best possible experience in sport and activity through a ‘child first’ approach taken on board by England’s 2.6million coaches to build a grassroots movement which is hoped will in turn keep youngsters staying active through the rest of their life.

The campaign was launched on Tuesday morning in south London at Peckham BMX Club with 2020 Olympic silver medallist Kye Whyte, who is one of more than 2,000 young people to have been coached and supported there since the facility opened in 2004.

Whyte told the PA news agency: “The ‘Play Their Way’ campaign is brilliant because there are other sports and clubs that might need their help.

“It is a different time for kids growing up now with their iPad rather than going outside on their bikes or to play football, so if there is any way you can keep them outside and doing sports with a campaign like this, then that is the best thing for it.”

Whyte’s father Nigel was a co-founder of the Peckham BMX Club. The 23-year-old hopes his progress all the way to Olympic success can help inspire the next generation.

“I always had to train because I lived with one of the coaches and it has been a long journey for me, but has been good,” Whyte said.

“I am from their club and was in the position they were a couple of years back, so they can see where it can go and the success it can bring them.

“Hopefully there was that connection and they can push on and strive to be where I am or even better.”

Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth feels the new campaign for a child-first coaching approach can pay dividends in the future.

“Positive experiences for children and young people are at the heart of Sport England’s ‘Uniting the Movement’ strategy – and child-first coaching is an important part of this,” he said.

“Our research tells us that for children, fun is the primary reason for taking part in sport and activity. They will want to take part if they enjoy it.

“It is vital that we put fun and enjoyment at the centre of sport and activity and give our children and young people the chance to shape their sporting experiences to boost activity levels.”

Head of coaching and policy at UK Coaching, Heather Douglas added: “Coaches play such an important role in the development of children and young people’s lives – often in difficult circumstances – and can have a profound effect on the positive experiences they have in sport and physical activity.

“We know that child-first coaching and giving children a choice and a voice in the way they are coached works and that many of our coaches are out there doing this already.

“This campaign is about helping more coaches do more of this and through ‘Play Their Way’ we will be providing them with resources and support to help transform the way our children and young people are coached.”

:: To learn more about the campaign, access resources and sign up to join the biggest grassroots movement to transform the way we coach our children and young people visit www.playtheirway.org