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07 Jun 2021 257

Coaches highly valued by the British public, but concerns from coaches remain says lead body

New statistics, released by UK Coaching during UK Coaching Week, show that the majority of Brits believe coaches will help nation become fitter and more active, however, 9 in 10 coaches are concerned about the poor mental and physical health of their participants.

The role that coaches play in inspiring people to be active will become increasingly significant as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, with 72% of the British public saying that coaches and instructors will be important in supporting and encouraging people to get back into physical activity after the pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on the nation’s activity levels, with 1.2 million more adults now classed as ‘inactive’ (up 2.6% to 27.1%) and less than half (44.9%) of children and young people meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of 60 minutes a day. The pandemic has also impacted the nation’s mental well-being, with new data from UK Coaching showing that nearly 9 in 10 coaches (87%) are concerned about the poor mental and physical health of participants. Additionally, nearly half of all coaches (47%) said one of the biggest challenges currently facing them is motivating people to return to sport and physical activity.

Coaches will be central to the nation’s restart, with research conducted by YouGov on behalf of UK Coaching revealing that 7 in 10 adults (70%) believe grassroots coaches and instructors are important in helping Britain become a fitter and more active society. 

And the vital work that coaches deliver is being understood and appreciated more than ever, with over two thirds (69%) of the nation believing it is important for society to value the role that coaches and instructors play in keeping local communities active.

Yet concerns amongst coaches remain and UK Coaching, the lead charity for coaches in Britain, fear that coaches aren’t receiving the support they need in order to continue playing this vital role in communities.

With the Covid-19 pandemic causing many people to consider the need to be fitter and more active, nearly 6 in 10 (57%) of coaches surveyed are concerned about the increased cost of facilities and almost half (48%) said they needed to offer lower priced activities to enable wider access. Access to funding and facilities also remains a barrier, with 40% of those surveyed raising concerns about the need for updated facilities in encouraging their local community to return, as well as increased access to funding for equipment (34%) and to reopen local facilities (31%).

Mark Gannon, Chief Executive at UK Coaching, said:

It is clear that the British public see coaches as fundamental to driving a more active society and value the important role they play in creating healthier and happier communities. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed many of the vulnerabilities in the health of the nation and it is now more important than ever to support people to achieve healthier lives.

“Coaches will be vital as we transition through the pandemic but in order to continue delivering great coaching, we must ensure they have all the support and tools they need. From our research we know that three areas of concern remain - the cost of entry, access to and out-of-date facilities and cost of equipment.”

The research has been released during UK Coaching Week – a national awareness week to celebrate great coaching and help the nation’s coaches to share their voice, be heard and generate the investment they need to reinvent, recover and return.

Emma Hayes, Chelsea Women’s Head Coach, is supportive of the campaign. She said:

Coaches play a fundamental role in driving people to be more active and to reap all of the positive physical and mental health benefits that this brings. Elite coaches get a lot of attention, but really, it’s the army of grassroots coaches in communities who are making the biggest difference. That’s why I am happy to show my support for UK Coaching Week and recognise coaching’s importance in helping Britain become a more active nation.

Tracey Neville, Performance Operations Director at Manchester Thunder Netball and former Head Coach of England Netball, said:

“It’s fantastic to read that the majority of people back grassroots coaches to get the nation back to activity, fitness and good well-being as restrictions ease. I know first-hand the influence that great coaches can have on your life. My own coaches instilled principles in me that have driven me to be where I am now. They are at the centre of communities and bring people together in a welcoming environment to support them to enjoy sport and physical activity. That’s why I’m supporting UK Coaching Week.”  

To find out more about UK Coaching and the activity taking place this UK Coaching Week, visit www.ukcoaching.org/coachingweek

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