28% of people from ethnic minorities state that their most valuable figure growing up for their development was a community figure outside of their friends and family – compared to 14% of general population
18% of people say a positive role model outside of their close-knit family influenced them to not engage in a life of crime or activities that do not serve their future
27% of Brits say as a parent, they have been supported by numerous figures in the community in the development aspects of raising their child/children
Alongside the release of their latest research report, The Lions outline their ambitious plans for community engagement over the next 12 months
London Lions center, Jonathan Komagum comments on the support of community and coaches as being the key components that enabled him to become successful “Speaking from experience, I know that the coaches I had when I was young had a big impact on my life. They helped me and taught me about discipline which are things I struggled with when I was young. I was able to improve these life skills, which I still carry to this day.”
Family structures in the UK are under the most intense strain seen in 50 years as a result of the cost of living crisis. Now, a staggering 1-in-5 people in the UK live in poverty according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, with a further 1.9m children relying on free school meals. In such a challenging climate, grassroots sports clubs – and the support they provide to children from struggling families – have never been more important. Far from just providing an outlet for physical activity, a new landmark study from the UK’s premier basketball club, the London Lions, has even found that 29% of Brits say their child’s sports coach has helped them develop in ways that they are not able to.
The study found this type of support to be vital especially for marginalised communities – 28% of people from ethnic minorities state that their most valuable figure growing up for their development was a figure outside of their friends and family – this comes in comparison to just 14% of the wider population. Specifically, the Lions’ research found that 14% stated their most important role model came in the form of a sports coach. However, not all children have access to high-quality coaching. According to a report from Sport England, there are significant inequalities in sports participation across different socioeconomic groups, with children from low-income households less likely to participate in sports than their wealthier peers.
For those that lack access to positive role models, there is a known risk that children may turn to a life of crime. Serving as testament to this, 18% of UK adults said someone outside of their close-knit family stopped them from engaging in a life of crime or activities that do not serve their future. This comes as figures from the Youth Justice Board show that over 13,000 children aged 10 to 17 were cautioned or sentenced in the UK last year. Receiving a positive impact from a sports coach can also define career paths for young Brits as the Lions shows that 21% of the population think sports is the industry they would most like to work in.
Realising the transformative power of sport for young people across the UK, the Lions recently partnered with Serpentine Galleries to create a unique community basketball court in Tower Hamlets – London’s worst-hit borough in terms of child poverty. The court aims to provide a vibrant and free space for kids to play as the London team will host a series of coaching sessions at the Weavers Adventure Playground site. Alongside this, the Lions have teamed with University of East London (UEL) and New City College (NCC) to deliver basketball programmes and aim to inspire the next generation by reaching out to schools and inviting them to their men’s and women’s fixtures.
The team have also partnered under the ONE TEAM umbrella with Safe Haven to deliver numerous clinics as well as offering their coaching staff to support in their weekly sessions. Additionally, the London team have launched a coaching programme which aims to address the UK basketball scene becoming an isolated environment due to current legislation which means that obtaining a visa to coach basketball is a major obstacle for elite coaches around Europe. As part of the initiative, young British coaches can spend time abroad with a partner club in Europe to learn new coaching techniques and bring these back to the UK to help develop the sport in Britain.
General Manager of the women’s team, Vanja Cernivec comments:
“Anyone that has played sports at a younger age realises the importance their coach plays in their life and development. It’s crucial that when children are introduced to a sport, they have a positive experience so it’s something then continue to do. I think that coaches themselves need to be aware of the importance of their role – if you take a percentage of how many athletes end up playing professional sports, it’s very small so I think all coaches need to be aware that on the first step they’re developing a young person’s life and a potential career path.
When participating in sports, a child can learn and develop life skills that can be transferred into their adult life – hard work, teamwork, decision making, abiding by rules and that’s all taught through a coach. I do think the coaches that are working with the youth right now are so underfunded and under invested in. We should invest in our kids and would need to have the best people, best trained professionals and most experienced working with those kids.”
London Lions player, Jonathan Komagum comments:
“Speaking from experience, I know that the coaches I had when I was young had a big impact on my life. They helped me and taught me about discipline which are things I struggled with when I was young. I was able to improve these life skills, which I still carry to this day. Coaches can provide leadership and guidance to young children at ages when they are very impressionable and looking to be led. Young children face many influences at a young age – both positive and negative – and having a sports coach is a great way to lead them in the right direction in life.”
Chief Executive Officer of the British Basketball League (BBL), Aaron Radin comments:
“The role of people in the community in the development of an athlete, much less a positive contributor to society is incredibly important. I know this first-hand from over twenty years of coaching and mentoring in inner-city Brooklyn. Many of the kids I worked with were from single or no-parent homes and often had no role models of family members who had gone to college or been successful professionally. To have an adult take an interest in them and provide guidance is, while not necessarily at the moment, ultimately appreciated. One of the most fulfilling outcomes of the relationships I formed is that many of these kids returned, as adults, to their communities to give back in the form of coaching and mentoring.”