Former England rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio has backed a new campaign to show how sport and physical activity can help create a fairer society.
The Sport for Development Coalition, made up of more than 200 charities and other organizations across the UK, will launch its ‘Open Goal’ campaign on Wednesday.
The campaign will showcase the work Coalition members are doing to improve physical and mental well-being, help reduce crime and anti-social behavior and build stronger, more cohesive communities, and advocate for existing funds committed to fighting crime and improving employment prospects and health inequalities to be confined to proven sports projects.
Dallaglio charity RugbyWorks is a member and works with some of the country’s most vulnerable young people, who are in an alternative supply after being excluded from mainstream school.
“The statistics on people leaving the PA supply aren’t great – 65% ended up in jail,” Dallaglio told the PA news agency.
“It further disenfranchises some of the most vulnerable people in the UK. And it’s costing us all a lot of money.
He believes that directing funds committed to jobs, health and crime prevention to sport-based interventions is an opportunity that must be seized.
“We are talking about terrible statistics and the Coalition is using the power of sport to turn them into positive and productive statistics and results. The cost to society (of doing nothing) is obvious.
“I could tell you how much it costs to put someone in jail for a year – that’s a lot of money. So if you’re able to use sport in a way that really improves people’s chances of having a productive and positive outcome, then that must be a good thing to do.
“We are not asking for fresh money. It’s about investing in programs that already exist to give a better return on that investment.
He added: “The Sport for Development Coalition is trying to do amazing things for young people. Don’t get me wrong, the last three years have been very difficult for everyone.
“The inequality gap that existed three years ago, imagine what the last three years have done to that?
“If you were struggling three years ago and you come from this background, imagine how much you are struggling now – COVID-19, Brexit, the looming cost of living crisis.
“It’s about increasing people’s self-esteem. Rugby has values, but they are not specific to rugby, they are present in many sports. They teach people respect, for yourself and your teammates. It’s a matter of discipline, of teamwork – at the end of the day, we are not alone on this planet.
Through Open Goal, the Coalition will release a series of policy reports over the coming months that aim to support and inform the government on how sport can help tackle key health and societal inequalities – for example, the report “Moving for Mental Health” was published. in collaboration with Mind in January.
:: To learn more, visit sportfordevelopmentcoalition.org or follow #OpenGoal @SFDCoalition on Twitter.