The future of volleyball in a changing world
22nd May 2019
A blog piece from Volleyball England CEO Janet Inman:
I’ve really enjoyed the indoor season and look forward to the summer on the beach, but my thinking has never been far away from the long-term future of our sport and the challenges we still face.
Over the years, our funding from Sport England has been subsidising everyone that takes part in our sport. In the 2013-17 funding cycle, we received a grant of over £5m; in the 2017-21 cycle this amount has been halved. In 2019-20, we received £593,000. This will be reduced to £457,000 in 2020-21 – a gap of £136,000.
As an organisation, we have already made some tough decisions, cutting our workforce and making savings where we could, but over the next few months we will need to do more. We won’t have the resources to continue delivering projects and events in the same way as we have done in the past. The Board, as your elected representatives, will have the unenviable task of ensuring we continue to deliver to our volleyball community, but within the constraints of our finance and the targets set by our funders.
I have seen many people work hard so we are prepared for this year, but in 2020/21 we will face challenges, and this is because the political landscape for sport has been rapidly changing.
As I began to reflect in my previous blog post, the agenda for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Sport England, our main funders, has changed over the last three years. They no longer look at National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to help them get the nation active. The Sport England strategy ‘Towards an Active Nation’ is focusing more resources on tackling inactivity, because this is where they see the greatest gains for the individual and for society, while NGBs are focused on ensuring that those who are active continue to remain active.
The challenge volleyball, and other sports, now face is that ‘sport for sports sake’ is no longer seen as a high priority. We are now in a queue looking for government funding with services that include education, health, the armed and uniformed services to name but a few. Sport England funding is also being spread across a wider range of partners that encourage people to become more active, such as Parkrun and Street Games, rather than to traditional sports.
This reduction in funding is being felt across all sports not just volleyball; Sport England is encouraging all NGBs to be more self-reliant and look at other sources of income, providing services to members and thinking in a more commercial way.
To ensure the long-term future of volleyball we know we will need to evolve. We need to change. We need to be more efficient and use technology to support us. The introduction of VolleyZone – the new online portal – will be the first step.
VolleyZone will give us greater understanding of our volleyball community and enable us to provide the right services, at the right time, in the right location. It will make processes more streamlined and create a better way of engaging with you. VolleyZone will be the one stop shop for resources, information and services.
The membership is the heart of the sport and, thankfully, the numbers have remained stable for many years. Volleyball England provides a wide breadth of services for the membership, including referee and coaching qualifications, competitions, safeguarding, DBS checks, club support, development programmes…the list goes on and we need to ensure that we continue to provide services you want and need.
Everyone at Volleyball England, the staff, the board and the volunteers care about our sport and, with your support and patience, we will continue to work hard to ensure the future of the sport we all care so passionately about.