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After the Games have gone

Our lead for Birmingham 2022 discusses the impact the Commonwealth Games will have on the area and how we're working to ensure the best possible legacy.

9th August 2022

by Adam Rigarlsford
Lead for Birmingham 2022, Sport England

As the Games came to a close last night, we celebrated performances of sporting endeavour and revelled in the cultural diversity of Birmingham and the Commonwealth, celebrating all that is good about coming together for a festival of fun, hope, ambition and wellbeing.

But it would be remiss of me not to recognise the hundreds/thousands of hours that have gone in to making Birmingham 2022 the biggest and best Commonwealth Games there have been, and from a starting position shorter than any other host has had to deliver in.

The buzz in Birmingham was palpable. I went to see the Queen’s Baton Relay make its way through Small Heath Park in the build-up to the Games and witnessed the pride and joy of coaches, volunteers and community leaders celebrating being part of something together, of families and friends cheering them on.

After two years of Covid-19 restrictions, to see so many people uniting and celebrating was truly inspirational.

At Sport England we’ve invested into Team England and enjoyed the passion and commitment being exhibited on the sporting field of play.

A member of the public uses the trails at Cannock Chase Forest - mountain bike venue of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Importantly, we also supported more than 1,000 young people and volunteers to give an immersive experience of what being part of a major multi-sport international event feels like.

Team England Futures helped prepare the performers of the future for Team England and Team GB – bringing forward more young people and support staff that reflect the diversity of our population.

The value and importance of the Games to Sport England extends far beyond the field of play though, and into the heart of communities across Birmingham, the West Midlands and other areas of the country.

Our investment runs through to December 2023, so as the Games themselves played out over the last 11 days, much of the work on legacy started to build up a head of steam.

Whether that be for the communities benefitting from our Birmingham 2022 Small Grants programme, one of the many initiatives emerging from our Commonwealth Active Communities programmes or the activation through a number of national governing bodies in reaching further and deeper to support those furthest way and least active presently.

We’ve already seen the benefit of our programmes through our recent visit to Impact Fitness in Tyseley – a community wrestling and boxing club using the inspiration of a home games to inspire more young people to get involved in their sport, and more women and girls to become coaches.

This is just one of a number of groups we’ve supported through our Places and Spaces programme and investment – in this instance into British Wrestling, who are focussing their energies on growing participation, coaching and volunteering through women and girls from culturally diverse backgrounds.

After two years of Covid-19 restrictions, to see so many people uniting and celebrating was truly inspirational.

There’s a fundamental ambition through all of our legacy planning that I wanted to hone-in on here.

That is to focus resource on where it’s most needed and can have the biggest impact.

That means an unrelating commitment to ensuring the funding reaches deeper and wider than it has in the past.

All of our resource is through the lens of tackling inequalities, supporting those that have the most to gain but often the hardest journey to find sporting opportunities that are affordable, accessible and responsive to where people find themselves.

We won’t always get this right and we are on a journey rather than arriving at the end at this point and have much to learn.

Record breaking

Team England's tally of 176 medals - including 57 gold - is their best ever haul from a home Games.

But we’re keen to challenge ourselves, and the partners we’re working through, to continually ask if we’re listening deeply to what communities are saying? Are we co-creating with and not doing to? Are we recognising and building on the assets in place, particularly the passion, lived experience and knowledge to know what is best?

We’ve seen some of the NGBs we’re working with, seeking to collaborate with local partners and stakeholders and with a passion to do things differently to create new sustainable opportunities and make existing opportunities more accessible.

Ultimately if we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always got.

The Games is a catalyst to do things differently and embed a new way of supporting people to access the benefits of an active lifestyle, but in a way that works for them on their terms as opposed to being offered short-term, top-down approaches that don’t have the ownership to be sustained.

We’ve learnt this from the last four years of our place-based working across the organisation and now have an opportunity to embed that learning through our approach to legacy. 

Our investment over the next 18 months should create the foundations for how we want to work locally and with partners in Birmingham and the West Midlands in the future.

There are lots of partners and stakeholders that have fabulous energy, commitment, knowledge and influence, and we want to work with you to realise the benefits that sport and physical activity can have.

If we can harness the collective ambition through a shared sense of purpose and with an unrelenting commitment to making a difference, we can deliver on our Uniting the Movement ambition to get more people to move more and all the benefits that brings.

Find our more about our investment into these Commonwealth Game.

Birmingham 2022

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