It was decided to have a more in-depth discussion and share news and views about all the sports-related activity that goes on, or could go on, in green spaces, and the related issues and concerns. The following points were made:
Holidays schemes are an important way to encourage young people to use parks and green spaces for enjoyment and healthy activities, and one park had established a sports and arts consortium of groups (including the Friends) for youth activities every holiday. Important for Friends Groups to try to link up with football teams and other sports-related user groups (tai chi, walking groups etc).
Trim trails are a good way to encourage adults to get fit using parks. Others include: footprint parks, skate parks (some schools use these), and, of course football, tennis courts and bowling greens.
TCV organises ‘Green Gyms’ (gardening sessions) in some parks. The issue of professionals using parks for fitness classes (for which they charge but do not pay park hire charges) is becoming an issue in some places.
Funds for the capital costs to develop sports facilities can be applied for from various sources including the Football Foundation, Sports relief and the Marathon Trust.
There is a nationwide Save Grassroots Football network and campaign calling for more Premiere League TV rights funding to go into such sports and facilities, as facilities and pitches are deteriorating due to budget cuts but charges are rising. The Save Grassroots Football campaign had a day of protests in Feb.
There are however examples of parks where sports facilities are maintained and well used while others are not. In the current financial situation should Councils charge or not for the use of synthetic pitches and floodlights, especially by professional sports trainers? Situation is patchy, but need to fundraise whilst ensuring local people have free/cheap access to pitches etc.
The issue of licensing park use by professionals is being considered. In some places facilities are maintained but not used.
Some councils do strongly support sports activities, including outdoor table tennis. In some small parks there is a conflict between sports activities and biodiversity.