The European City of Sport Conference took place on Wednesday 6th December at The Brightside Ground, Bristol.
This was the first city-wide sporting conference that Bristol has hosted, and the turn-out proved that it was a very popular event!
The planning & organising of this conference was an excellent example of collaborative working between Business West, Wesport, and Bristol City Council, with support from the team at The Brightside Ground as the venue for the event.
The day started with networking over freshly-cooked pastries, and then the conference itself started with a welcome speech from Steve Nelson, CEO of Wesport, followed by a message from the event sponsors SDS Limited. We then heard from Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, sharing his vision for sport & physical activity in Bristol along with some anecdotes from his life.
This led into keynote speeches to inspire & inform the delegates. We heard from:
• Chrissie Wellington OBE, who shared the story of parkrun - a very successful global, community-led approach to getting people active
• Mike Diaper, Executive Director of Community Sport at Sport England, who shared his thoughts on the logic of investing in sport and physical activity to benefit society
• Adrian Christy, CEO of Badminton England who spoke about a changing role for National Governing Bodies of Sport
• Barry Horne, CEO of English Federation of Disability Sport, inspiring people to change their perceptions of disability relating to sport & physical activity
• Sally Hogg, Acting Director of Public Health Bristol, who shared the importance of sport and physical activity in improving health and wellbeing
After the break, delegates went to their 2 morning workshops – there were several workshops to choose from, including:
• The parkrun story – lessons in getting the inactive active through regular local events
• Engaging disabled people in sport and physical activity
• The power of sport in improving mental health
• Sport as a tool for economic growth - the wider economic benefits of sport to local economies
• A new plan for coaching in England
• Raising finance for sports facilities – a new approach for the Sector
Then it was time for lunch! We had the pleasure of learning all about Pickleball, as well as a variety of sporting opportunities offered by Shine Sports Coaching. Many of the delegates took part in the lunchtime activities, as well as making the most of the opportunity to network & build relationships with their peers.
To start the afternoon off in style, Pat Lam (Head Coach at Bristol Rugby) delivered an energising presentation, which was very well-received! People are still talking about it now!
We then had an inspiring Question & Answer Panel session, hosted by Neil Maggs. We heard from Gina Hopkins (Adaptive Martial Arts), Emily Graham, and Becky Mitchell. They shared their stories about how sport & physical activity has made a fundamental difference to their lives. This helps to highlight what a difference sport & physical activity can make to people’s mental health as well as their physical health.
After the Q&A Panel session, delegates then went to their next set of 2 workshops:
• Social Prescribing – improving community health and wellbeing by not prescribing drugs
• Why sport is good for your workplace – the benefits of an active workplace to your business
• Active Ageing – challenging perceptions of ageing and staying active in later life
• Linking elite and mass participation cycling events for maximum engagement and impact
• Attracting Major Events – a club’s approach
• Open Data and Sport – Using open data to help people get active
We then held a Raffle Prize Draw – with the proceeds also going to the Sporting Legacy Fund for Bristol. We were lucky to have had some wonderful prizes donated, so thank you to those that offered prizes and those that bought tickets!
The conference then ended in style with an engaging & entertaining presentation from James Cracknell OBE, who shared a video summary & several photos of his various adventures – though I’m not sure we all needed to see the photos of the blisters! James is bringing the Weston Super Half Marathon to Weston-Super-Mare in March 2018 with his company RunJoy.
The whole day was a huge success, with lots of positive feedback received so far – from both speakers & the attendees! It has also meant a significant contribution to the Sporting Legacy Fund (final amounts are being added up at present, but should hopefully be around £4k).
Special thanks must go to the Events Team at the Bristol Pavilion at the Brightside Ground, who provided an incredible service at the venue to ensure that everything ran smoothly on the day.
Thanks also go to Black Iris Images, our official event photographer, and to Sounds Commercial for their excellent AV support. Last but certainly not least, thanks to the team at Business West Initiative, Bristol City Council, Gloucestershire County Cricket, and Wesport for coming together to plan & organise this conference in the first place. It had many moving parts, but we managed to achieve an amazing event!