Jamie Waller talked to Janet Inman, the CEO of Lincolnshire Sport, about participation in sport across the county and how her organisation is aiming to improve it.
What does Lincolnshire Sport do?
Our goal is to improve the levels of physical activity in the country. We see ourselves as strategy leaders, bringing people and organisations with shared objectives together. We support them to find funding and make funding bids. This helps to set up coaching programs, clubs and teams through the county.
How has physical activity in Lincolnshire changed during your time as CEO?
There was a massive surge during 2012 Olympic games. We saw lots of diverse activity going on. But unfortunately, that’s declined over the following years. We didn’t see the same surge during the 2016 Games; people were more interested in spectating than participating.
However, we have noticed that more people are training individually. People are more likely to go to the gym in their spare time, but less likely to join in organised sport like football or rugby. This unfortunately means that its difficult for complete beginners to become active.
What have been recent success stories in the county?
One of the programmes that’s had great results is Activity for All. This is a long-running program to help disabled people and their families get active. It gives them the chance to try all sorts of sports they might not have before, and shows you don’t have to fit a certain description to get active.
Which sports are particularly growing in Lincolnshire?
We’ve got a huge amount of activity in netball, thanks to the Back to Netball program. The aim with that is to engage people in schools, focusing more on individuals than teams.
Park Runs are also a huge success. Three years ago, there weren’t any in Lincolnshire – now there are regularly 650 people running 5K’s on a Saturday morning. The Lincoln Park Run is the biggest, followed by Gainsborough and Boston. We’re trying to organise one further south in the county to give more people access to it.
Running Clubs have also been doing a great job by holding Couch to 5K programs to make it easier for people to get into running, which has been effective. Gainsborough Morton Striders ran a program last year which had 90 people taking part.
Your organisation does a lot of work in schools. How important is that to your overall strategy?
It’s important to get young people active so they learn the benefits of exercise early on. There are certain points when people tend to stop exercising, such as the transition for primary to secondary, secondary to college, and higher education to working life. We aim to make sure there are always opportunities for people to continue their sport if they want at these ages.
What advice can you give people who want to become more active?
Do something – it doesn’t matter what! Get off the sofa, go for a walk, take the grandkids out, ride a bike, take the dog to the park – it could be anything. Just don’t sit there. If you’re at work, simple tips to keep active like taking the stairs. I fetch paper from the printer each time it comes out so I’m not sat down for hours.
For more information on Lincolnshire Sport, visit their website.
(Note – since the publication of this article, Lincolnshire Sport has changed its name to Active Nation.)