With less than three weeks until Scotland goes to the polls in the Parliamentary elections, all the major political parties have now published their manifestos. Scottish Rugby, the national governing body for the sport in Scotland, has assessed each party manifesto and concluded that its own Community Rugby Strategy and focus on local and regional partnerships is broadly in tune with the thinking of the main political parties - particularly on the contribution sport can play in communities throughout Scotland and on Scottish society as a whole. With less than three weeks until Scotland goes to the polls in the Parliamentary elections, all the major political parties have now published their manifestos.
Scottish Rugby, the national governing body for the sport in Scotland, has assessed each party manifesto and concluded that its own Community Rugby Strategy and focus on local and regional partnerships is broadly in tune with the thinking of the main political parties - particularly on the contribution sport can play in communities throughout Scotland and on Scottish society as a whole.
In February Scottish Rugby was the first sport in Scotland to publish its own manifesto, “Developing Rugby, Improving Scotland” which highlighted rugby’s potential to contribute in areas such as social inclusion, health and education.
For this to happen, children and young people need to be introduced to sport and physical activity by well qualified teachers, coaches and parents. These people must then be supported in continued participation by the availability of good coaching and good facilities. Scottish Rugby is encouraged that this is the approach politicians are now keen to pursue.
Scottish Rugby is wholly supportive of the stance taken by parties backing Scotland’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. A successful bid would help to drive sport up the political agenda and open the door to new investment aimed at significantly increasing sports participation, particularly amongst Scotland’s youth. However the participants of a 2014 Commonwealth Games are the teenagers and young people of today. If Scotland seeks podium success in 2014, we need a step change in our sporting infrastructure now.
Making Scotland more active and addressing the amount of physical activity offered in schools is a common theme amongst the main party manifestos. Scottish Rugby welcomes the recognition that there needs to be a close and effective working partnership between clubs and schools on sports-related activities. It is encouraged by the various party plans to set aside anything from 2 to 5 hours each week dedicated to sporting activity. However, Scottish Rugby is mindful that the figure of two hours per week should be a bare minimum and that we should be striving for daily physical education and activity for our young people.
In the past year Scottish Rugby has led the way with the provision of the United Kingdom Coaching Certification (UKCC) in Scotland and welcomes the support and recognition some parties are giving to encourage the growth and success of this important UK-wide coaching qualification, through helping to cover the costs for individuals seeking to gain the certificate.
The quantity and quality of coaching provision in Scotland is a major factor in determining how many young people take regular exercise and continue to enjoy doing so. Scottish Rugby welcomes any focus on additional coaches and physical education teachers and believes that this area offers massive potential for future development of sport and physical activity in the long term. The governing body is encouraged by the focus of the political parties in this area but also believes that plans to improve coaching must be specific and drawn up in consultation with all sports governing bodies.
Scottish Rugby welcomes the recognition by political parties that our community sports clubs play a crucial role in delivering sport and physical activity to local communities. Sports clubs should be supported and assisted in providing opportunities and activity within their local areas, making sport and physical activity inclusive to all.
Every party’s manifesto has emphasised a commitment to grow and develop skills, including Modern Apprenticeships. The Community Coaching SVQ operated by Scottish Rugby in conjunction with Scottish Enterprise offers an excellent opportunity to expand an already successful programme with additional support from government.
Having enough good quality sports facilities is one of the most fundamental requirements of any sport, yet many sports struggle to provide such facilities at club or international level. A close working partnership with the Scottish Executive to ensure young Scots have the means to practice and succeed in their chosen sports is essential.
Finally, Scottish Rugby commends the commitment to provide a new 50m swimming pool in Aberdeen and additional funding for new and improved football facilities, including 200 new synthetic pitches and the upgrading of 1500 grass pitches. It believes such funding is helpful and is keen that these facilities be used by many sports and are seen as community facilities.
Scottish Rugby would be pleased to work with the Scottish Football Association, Scottish Swimming and other governing bodies to examine how we can ensure the fullest use of facilities and value for money for the Scottish taxpayer, should the spending come to fruition following the Parliamentary Elections on 3 May.