The Importance of Grassroot sports 

During the Covid lockdowns many of us struggled to keep up with our previous exercise routines-confined to an hour of sporting freedom a day, team and community sports were stopped all together or worse confined to zoom. Now that we can carry on with clubs and classes the focus must be on grassroot sports. 

So why is it so important? 

Physical inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK. The NHS recommends that we do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity a week. Evidence tells us that a love of exercise is habitual and is often developed at an early age. Many local communities offer sport teams for young people from football to netball and it is a brilliant way of building up fitness and confidence. The FA published a paper discussing the importance of grassroot football which stated that ‘childhood participation in football contributes to the reduction of 66.5k cases of depression and anxiety and 213.5k cases of childhood obesity.’ this statistic emphasises how important it is for young people to participate in sports. 

Grassroot sports also have a big impact socially. Participating in sport has been shown to has a massively positive impact on mental health as being a part of a team, following rules and setting goals builds confidence and can help in other aspects of life. Achieving something with the people around you can provide more self-confidence in other tasks. Sports can also help to unite communities and provide a safe space outside of school for young people to go to. Exercise improves memory and brain function in all age groups as well as reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. 

Opportunities for girls in grassroot sports has dramatically improved over the past few years thanks to new campaigns such as ‘This Girl Can’ which launched in 2015 and since then has been providing funding and encouragement to give all women opportunities in sport. UEFA reported that 80% of teenage girls who play football feel more confident in everyday life. Although clubs have struggled to open during covid opportunities for indoor sports such as table tennis and volleyball are more prominent than ever. The impact playing sports can have on young girls' confidence is invaluable and something we need to continue to grow. 

To conclude, I recently visited a local south club rugby club where grassroot sports are clearly alive and well for everyone, whilst I was there a boy's training session was taking place as well as a girls rugby tournament. The club also offers seniors amateur rugby as well as a veteran's team. Local clubs like this are a perfect example of how people of all ages can come together to celebrate sport and support the local community. Supporting clubs like this one and encouraging everyone to participate is invaluable to physical and mental health, grassroot sports can unite communities and inspire countless people. What more reason do we need!