Youth Voice Consultation - Barriers To Engaging Children and Young People In Sport and Physical Activity

April 18, 2024

On the 13 and 14 March 2024 around 250 children from Years 6 and 7 from across Cumbria came together for the Social Me Sportshall Athletics Transition Festival at Penrith Leisure Centre and Moor Close Community Centre. 

In the first part of the consultation the children were given some cards with potential barriers to engaging in sport/physical activity and asked to negotiate within their groups and choose their top three potential barriers, due to a tie break it ended up being the top four barriers.

Top four barriers to engaging in sport:

  • Some people don’t have a lot of confidence
  • The activity is not on at a suitable time
  • Some sports are only available for boys or girls which isn’t fair
  • Playing sport can cost too much

The groups then moved on to looking at feeling safe within sport/physical activity.  They discussed questions including:

What makes you feel safe in sport/physical activity?

Responses included:

  • A supportive coach
  • Support from the team
  • Being in the same team as friends
  • When you are having fun
  • Self confidence
  • Feeling like we are all in it together

What makes you feel unsafe in sport/physical activity?

Responses included:

  • My fitness level
  • Getting shouted at
  • Pressure
  • Feeling left out
  • People not being welcoming
  • People arguing
  • People watching me

What is a good coach like?

Responses included:

  • Someone who doesn’t shout
  • Supportive
  • They make you better
  • Encouraging
  • Approachable
  • Patient
  • Motivating

What is a bad coach like?

Responses included:

  • Puts too much pressure on me
  • They scream and shout
  • They make you feel rubbish
  • They don’t let you make mistakes

What does it feel like to win a competition?

Responses included:

  • Happy
  • Feels like I have worked for something and it was worth it
  • I feel proud
  • Feels great to get a medal/trophy

What does it feel like when you don’t win a competition?

Responses included:

  • Feels like I didn’t try hard enough
  • Feels like you let everyone down
  • Frustrated
  • Disappointed

What next? Support and resources for coaches

According to Sport England’s Active Lives survey (2021-22), only 47% of children who regularly exercise strongly agree that they enjoy taking part in sport and physical activity – a figure that’s still down on pre-pandemic levels (51%) which were already low.

The Play Their Way movement aims to support coaches to give children and young people a choice in their experiences of activity, create space for them to voice their wishes and enable them to take ownership of their development journey. When you embrace child-first coaching every coach has the potential to transform lives.

Visit the Play Their Way website to discover child first coaching today!

To find out more about the consultation contact Liz Wright – Active Cumbria Sports Welfare Officer by e-mail