The power of sport in our society cannot be underestimated. Being active is not only important for our physical health, but it is an invaluable tool in improving mental wellbeing, in bringing communities together and for the pure feelgood factor it generates for millions every week.
Through our strategy Sporting Future we have been clear on how we want to redefine what success in sport looks like and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get active. And we have made excellent progress over the past year.
The Code for Sports Governance is helping sport bodies to deliver unprecedented levels of transparency, accountability and diversity in their decision-making. And the Sports Business Council is now well-established and looking at how we can maximise the economic impact of sport in the UK, improving access to finance and developing skills.
It is vital that we continue to create the right culture and environment for athletes to train and perform in. This year, we unveiled a mental health action plan to improve support for elite athletes. Coaches and support staff will be given additional training to spot the signs of poor mental health and to intervene before the pressure of elite performance becomes too much.
We have also introduced a new code to strengthen the safeguarding of children taking part in martial arts. Safeguarding is a responsibility that everyone needs to take seriously. This code gives parents the knowledge to make informed decisions and allows clubs to demonstrate their commitment to the highest standards of child protection.
On the field of play, we have once more had a wonderful year of sporting achievement. England brought the country together during their fantastic run to the semi-finals of the World Cup. Geraint Thomas’ incredible Tour de France victory and Georgia Hall’s winning her first major at the British Open will live long in the memory. Team GB enjoyed a best-ever Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. Glasgow brilliantly hosted the first ever European Championships in August, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had record performances at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
We are now looking ahead to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. This will be an incredible moment for the city, the West Midlands and the UK, and we are working hard to put on an amazing event that leaves a lasting economic and sporting legacy.
Getting more people into regular sport and activity remains one of my main priorities and there is still work to be done in this area. While the latest figures show that more than 60 per cent of adults are active, I want the sector to continue to find new ways to reach more people.
There is a sport or activity out for there for everyone, wherever they live and whatever their age or ability. I take my son to rugby and football sessions designed for two-year olds and also attend walking netball, which is open to all fitness levels. Not everyone wants to do competitive sport, which is why we continue to invest government and lottery cash into swimming, cycling and health walks so that everyone can take part.
Supporting the sector in these areas will be key to my thinking in the coming year. I want to build on the momentum within the sector to ensure we continue to harness the huge impact of sport on our physical and mental health.