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Designing and delivering sport to engage people who are less active

Research and Publications

Six Key Principles

VicHealth and La Trobe University’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact developed six key principles to guide our Doing Sport Differently (DSD) principles. These support organisations to design and deliver their programs for people living in Victoria. 

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. 

You can find more information about the principles in the document below: 

  • Resources

    In partnership with VicHealth, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of sport organisations funded through signed the VicHealth Gender Equity in Sport Leadership Pledge (the VicHealth Pledge) incorporating four commitments. This document summarizes the key findings from La Trobe University’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact. 

    This document provides sport organisations with advice and guidance on implementing VicHealth Gender Equality Quick Wins Checklist. This checklist was developed through VicHealth’s Leading Thinkers initiative in 2018 and trialled by the Regional Sport Assemblies (RSAs). 

    This resource contains tips on conducting market research with potential participants for sport participation products and experiences. This could be done at the concept development stage of a new product or when refining a product to reach a new audience. 

    This resource provides advice for designing surveys that reach the desired number of people, generate high response rates and gain useful information. Surveys are a key method 

    This resource is designed for people working in sport organisations that are exploring new sport participation products, supporting critical decisions about which delivery channels will be most suitable. It has been developed based on experiences of State Sport Associations (SSAs) and Regional Sports Assemblies (RSAs) in Victoria that have developed new products over the past decade, and the evaluation of these products by La Trobe University’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact.  

    This resource is designed for people refreshing an existing sport participation product or exploring the development of new products or experiences, supporting critical decisions required to develop a sustainable financial model. It has been developed based on experiences of State Sport Associations (SSAs) and Regional Sports Assemblies (RSAs) in Victoria who have developed new products over the past decade, and the evaluation of these products by La Trobe University’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact.

  • What is 'social sport'?

    Social sport is less structured than traditional sport. It has fewer rules and more flexibility, both in how the sport is played and how you can participate it in. However, social sport is more structured than active recreation activities. 


    For example:

     Traditional sport  Social sport Active recreation 

    Requires 11 people per team, train once a week, compete once a week, games last 90 minutes.


    GO Soccer Mums:

    A women-only soccer program all about having fun and learning basic football skills in a social, judgement-free environment.

    Friends or family visit a local park with a soccer ball and kick between each other.

    Social sport can be designed and delivered by an organisation (e.g. Regional Sporting Assembly), sport club, local council, Regional Sport Assembly 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?

    We all want to make sport and being active more accessible and fun for all Victorians.

    However, we also encourage organisations to use the Doing Sport Differently principles to make their sport more enjoyable and more welcoming for ‘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.

    We refer ‘less active’ people as

    • Adults over 18 years old who do less than 30 minutes of physical activity, at least 5 days a week. 

    • Children under 18 years old who haven’t participated in organised sport (outside school) in the past 3 months.

    There are a huge number of reasons why people might be less active. Lifestyle changes could mean that they have recently dropped out of sport or are doing less. Some people may not like traditional sport or may have had bad experiences in the past.

    We also know that people from particular target populations (e.g. from low socioeconomic areas, with disability, women, culturally and linguistically diverse, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTIQ) may face particular barriers that prevent them from being active. 

  • VicHealth’s investment

    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. 



Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
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Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.