Making sports facilities easier to access

by Jasmin Campbell health and wellbeing

Sport plays an invaluable role within communities across the entire UK thanks to its ability to bring people together and enhance mental wellbeing.

Creating healthy wellbeing can be nurtured in numerous ways and physical activity is one of those key methods. Regular physical activity improves your mood and energy levels, while scientific research has shown sport and exercise reduce stress while simultaneously fighting fatigue, improving alertness and concentration.

Given these multiple benefits that sport brings, more needs to be done to enable people to get involved in regular physical activity. Playfinder’s very reason for existence is exactly that, to provide a means for more people to get active using technology.

This innovative tech provides a solution to the issue felt by millions who found previous ways to book sports facilities slow, limited and fragmented.

Playfinder has helped 2.3m play sports since launching, but there is a long way to go. Sadly, according to a report compiled by Sport and Recreation Alliance, only 35% of sports facilities are bookable online or through an enquiry system. 

Work must be done to help councils increase participation numbers within their boroughs. Getting people of the borough into regular sport will build friendships and communities, while simultaneously supporting the NHS. Inactivity costs the nation a staggering £7.4bn each year.

Ealing council is the most recent borough to join the Playfinder portfolio, where they join Bedford, Islington and Waltham Forest. Each council partnership bids to energise their local community by making it easier for them to play more sport.

This comes at a time where councils are facing death by a thousand cuts. The Times, reported that its own analysis of council accounts showed spending on council-run sports facilities had fallen by two thirds over the past decade, revealing “that local authorities spent £244 million on leisure centres, swimming pools, running tracks and other sports sites in 2018, down from £565 million in 2009 as they have struggled to cope with central government funding cuts”.

Opening up access to these facilities by making it possible for people to easily book online or through an app means greater utilisation figures at the venues. An industry first ‘search by time’ feature goes a step further and has helped increase conversion rates from a user to booking by over 500%. 

Schools in communities usually have excellent sports facilities and more can be done to open access for locals. Schools own 35% of the facilities across England, the largest proportion of all operator types, but 40% of these are currently publicly inaccessible.

Adding these schools to an online marketplace and enabling people to book online or through an app means far more people using them. Schools also benefit from increased utilisation rates and these revenues can be invested back into the school.

Grassroots sport has never been more important for local communities as it has an unrivalled ability to bring people together, while nurturing mental wellbeing. Everything must be done to get more people into sport and opening access to these facilities is an easy win thanks to technology. Sports players benefit from improving mental and physical activity, as facilities enjoy greater revenues from better utilisation rates.

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about the author

Jasmin Campbell

Marketing & Administration Officer

T: 0117 328 6250