Designing and delivering sport to engage people who are less active
These documents are designed to help the sporting sector ‘do sport differently’ to attract, engage and retain less-active Victorians in sport.
Download: Designing and delivering sport to engage people who are less active (PDF, 3.9 MB)
Download: A guide for sports clubs (PDF, 1.6 MB)
Download: Active Club Grants (2016–18) Program Summary (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Download: Female Sport Program (2015–17) Summary (PDF, 5.8 MB)
Download: Regional Sport Program (2015–18) Summary (PDF, 3.3 MB)
Download: State Sport Program (2015–18) Evaluation Summary (PDF, 2.5 MB)
Nearly half of all Australians are not doing enough physical activity to benefit their health. This contributes to the burden of obesity, chronic disease and mental illness in our community (AIHW 2019. Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015: Interactive data on risk factor burden).
At the same time, trends in physical activity and sport participation are shifting. There is increased participation in social sporting activities and a decline in traditional, club-based sport (Hajkowicz 2013).
Sport organisations are facing the challenge of how best to grow participation in a changing world. People are increasingly time-poor, have varied access to sport facilities, and have limited money to spend on participation. Not everyone wants to join a competitive sport team or is able to meet regular training commitments.
Together, these trends and statistics point to crises in the health of Australians and risks to the viability of our sporting sector. However, they also present new opportunities. Attracting new participants by offering opportunities for social activities increases a sport’s reach and sustainability. It also addresses our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and growing rates of obesity.
VicHealth and La Trobe University’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact have drawn on years of experience to develop six key principles to guide the design and delivery of sport-based programs that target less-active people.
This highlights these six principles and provides high-level guidance to build the capacity of the sports sector to create participation opportunities for all Victorians.
The six principles are designed to support organisations through the four phases of implementing a new social sport participation opportunity or adapting an existing one.
What is 'social sport'?
Social sport is less structured than traditional sport. It has fewer rules and more flexibility, but is more structured than active recreation activities. Social sport can be designed and delivered by an organisation (e.g. state sporting association), sport club, local council or other individuals and groups. Social sport places a greater emphasis on fun, social interaction and enjoyment than on performance, results and competition.
Who are 'less active people'?
‘Less active’ people are those who don’t meet Australian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines, with respect to minutes of cardiovascular activity per week.
In the programs informing this document, adults who are less active are people over 18 who do less than 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. Children who are less active are people under 18 who haven’t participated in organised sport (outside school) in the past 3 months.
People might be less active because they have dropped out of sport or decreased their activity levels as their life circumstances changed, or they may never have been active enough.
Some people may not like sport, or might have had bad experiences in the past.
Some people from particular target populations (e.g. from low socioeconomic areas, with disability, women, culturally and linguistically diverse, Aboriginal) may face particular barriers that prevent them from being active. People from these populations may be more likely than the general population to be less active.
Between 2015 and 2018, VicHealth has supported Victorians who are less active to become more active through sport.
VicHealth has invested heavily in a broad range of sport organisations to help them ensure their ongoing viability and engage Victorians who are less active. Many initiatives have assisted local clubs and regional, state and national sport organisations to build more welcoming and flexible approaches to sport participation.
These programs have helped more Victorians become active, keeping them healthy, happy and well.
The new opportunities developed through these initiatives include:
• social sport programs that make activities fun, social and local
• introductory programs for newcomers to a sport
• programs specifically designed for under-represented groups (e.g. women, people with disability or newly arrived Victorians)
• programs designed to retain participants or cater to people who are returning to sport following a gap.
These programs emphasise fun, social interaction and enjoyment more than performance, results and competition.
Benefits for sport organisations
When sport organisations do sport differently, they:
• attract larger and more diverse audiences
• provide opportunities for people at different stages of their lives
• increase the number of participants, volunteers and administrators
• improve their brand
• see their sport thrive into the future
• positively influence the health of Victorians.
Doing sport differently requires rethinking when, where and how sport is delivered, and who delivers it. It may also require new systems, processes and ways of working. It needs patience and a commitment to a new direction.