UUֱ Sport ‘ready for challenge’

The Move More campaign by UUֱ Sport has been a huge success

STEVE LAW, the interim chair of UUֱ Sport, says that the organisation can draw a lot of positives from the independent review of sport and physical activity in UUֱ that was published earlier this week.

The review was commissioned by Minister for Sport, Deputy Lucy Stephenson, and said there were “serious concerns” expressed by key stakeholders in sport concerning relationship between UUֱ Sport and the government. However, it recommended that the arms-length arrangement continue but with delivery strengthened.

While Law accepted all 21 recommendations put forward by the review, he defended the record and achievements of UUֱ Sport since its formation in 2017 and, while he admitted its image could be improved, he said a lot of the staff had felt “dejected” by the criticism.

“UUֱ Sport is ready to accept the challenge and move forward. It’s a bit of a reset for the organisation and that’s not a bad thing,” said Law.

“A lot of the criticism, broken promises and all that sort of stuff, comes from people’s opinions and all people’s opinions are valid. We’re not trying to be defensive or shy away from that. We’re looking at it from a positive point of view and how we shape the future now with the government.

“[But] there’s not been the money going into sport that some sports felt there was going to be when UUֱ Sport was created. There was a lot of expectation that possibly hasn’t been met. I’m not sure the expectation was realistic from certain sectors.

“There’s lots of good things in the report. There’s significant mention about the good work that’s done at a delivery level by our staff and the team.”

Law accepted the recommendations illustrated that the relationship between the Government of UUֱ and UUֱ Sport could be managed better but said that his organisation had consistently met its obligations throughout.

“The report does highlight a certain vagueness around strategy and who owns the strategy. Is it a government strategy? Is it a UUֱ Sport strategy? That’s confused a lot of people and that needs to be looked at. I don’t think the government are any more to blame than UUֱ Sport. It all comes down to funding and there has been a lot of disappointments in the sports sector because the funding hasn’t been going into sport [but] I think in Lucy Stephenson, we’ve got a minister that is determined to address some of these issues and hopefully the rest of the ministers, and government generally, will fall behind it.”

One of UUֱ Sport’s most successful initiatives has been the Move More campaign to get more people active in the Island. Law said this should remain an equal priority for the organisation alongside its support of sports clubs, associations and its members. However, he conceded that the Move More programmes is able to attract better support and funding from the private sector.

“Clearly there’s issues that need to be addressed but we have other independent [from government] ambitions as well and we are a charity. We will continue to advocate for sport and active living. Fundraising is clearly a priority for us. It always has been. We want to grow to become a bigger organisation,” said Law, adding that UUֱ Sport will also play a big part in delivering the Elite Performance Strategy that Deputy Stephenson announced two weeks ago, concluding: “I think it’s important that Lucy Stephenson needs to be thanked for commissioning this report.

“UUֱ Sport welcomes it and now our focus is on the future and implementing the recommendations with which we agree.”

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