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Clubs and groups

Our Clubs Plan

Our vision is to help clubs and community organisations provide great experiences for their participants and workforce in high quality, safe and sustainable environments.

 To do this, we support: 

  •  Existing clubs, groups and organisations 
  • New and emerging organisations catering for newly-active participants, in establishing customer-focused practices and well-managed environments and structures. 

These ambitions support the five health and social outcomes that drive every investment we make.

Young boys helping each other during cricket

Uniting the Movement

Find out about our mission to make being physically active a normal part of life for everyone in England

Our strategy

Our objectives

We’re working to help organisations develop, grow and become more sustainable in the long-term. To achieve this, we’re:               

  • Supporting clubs and groups to help their participants develop more resilient activity habits, by promoting physical progression and ensuring the needs of participants are met.
  • Increasing levels of sport and physical activity among women, by addressing the existing inequality in participation among those who are regularly active, and developing a more attractive offering for women and girls. 
  • Ensuring that everyone taking part in sport and physical activity is safeguarded physically and mentally, by helping clubs and organisations to improve their welfare and safeguarding practices and promoting robust standards of welfare.
  • Increasing levels of sport and physical activity within lower socio-economic groups, by addressing the under-representation of protected groups based on the geographic locations of organisations, and combating actual and perceived barriers to participation among these groups.
  • Ensuring that the physical environment provides the conditions for people to be more active, by helping clubs and groups gain access to suitable facilities and driving improvements to existing community facilities.
Young adults listening to coach during taekwondo class

Support and tools

Access practical resources for community clubs, groups and organisations.


Action plan

We’ve created an action plan using our Clubs Plan, which sets out the specific actions we’ll take to achieve our objectives. These include:

  • Furthering the development of our insight into club and group participation and people’s attitudes towards it, particularly focusing on young people and people from lower socio-economic groups, to gain a better understanding of non-members and what the challenges and barriers might be for them.
  • Continuing to develop and extend the range of strategic partners we work with, including organisations within and beyond the sport and physical activity sector, so we can reach out to a wide range of clubs, groups and agencies at a local level through our support resources.
  • Continuing to invest in Buddle, our digital support platform. This will include the creation of resources for ‘intermediaries’ (those working alongside clubs and groups such as development officers and support workers), to ensure they have the knowledge, confidence and skills to support clubs in an impactful way. We’ll also make stronger links between Buddle and other support resources provided by other agencies.
  • Recognising that face-to-face support is important and can be a vital resource for clubs and community groups. We’ll invest in local/sub-regional organisations to provide focused local support, working with our target audiences.
Young female lacross players huddled up before game

Understanding clubs

We are keen to know as much as possible about sports clubs in England.

We've commissioned a number of pieces of research to continue to improve our understanding of voluntary sector sports clubs, their activities, participants, organisational challenges and their plans and aspirations for the future.

  • Club count

    In December 2017, Sheffield Hallam University completed the Club Count.

    This study counts the number of clubs affiliated to 95 National Governing Bodies, covering 85 sports in England.

    It gives a picture, not just of which sports have the most clubs but how they are spread geographically and some of challenges this poses for developing participation and reaching particular audiences.

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  • Sport and Recreation Alliance Sports Club Survey 2017

    The 2017 Club Survey was completed by the Sport & Recreation Alliance. It was distributed to voluntary sector clubs across England and builds on previous surveys in 2009, 2011, 2013. The survey covers a range of topics including:

    • Club activities and set up
    • Members and participants
    • A club’s people, including the type of people working with and providing support to the Club.
    • A club’s involvement with the local community
    • Finance, funding opportunities and support
    • Expectations, aspirations and plans for the future

    The findings of the survey will help Sport England shape its club support resources such as Club Matters and engagement of stakeholders and partners in this area of work.

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  • Club volunteering executive summary

    In October 2018, our Active Lives Adult Survey reported that 6.3 million adults had given their time at least twice over the last year to make sport or physical activity happen.

    This is a huge contribution, with people giving their time in a range of different ways, from coaching and committee roles to providing transport and marshalling events.

    Approximately 75% of these people volunteer in a local sports club (ref: Taylor 2003). It is therefore a key setting for our volunteering strategy and it is important that we supports clubs to ensure that their volunteers are having a positive experience, feel valued and want to continue giving their time.

    To increase our understanding of the current challenges and opportunities sports clubs face in relation to engaging and retaining volunteers, in 2018 we commissioned the Sport Industry Research Centre to conduct a Sports Club Volunteering Survey, collecting data from key volunteers who run sports clubs.

    The executive summary and the full report are available to download and includes detailed insight and the key recommendations to come out of the research, including the skills and experiences required by clubs, capacity and capability gaps, as well as challenges and methods to growing and retaining volunteers.

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