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Sport England

Encouraging youth activity

How we helped Sport England get more young people active.

Sport England is a non-departmental public body investing in sport and exercise with the mission of making it a part of our everyday lives.

Established by the Royal Charter in 1996, it is committed to offering everyone in England the opportunity to reap the benefits of sport and physical activity.

The Challenge

Sport England wanted to find out why growth in sport and physical activity had stalled among young people, and how they could change this.

The organisation realised it needed to get closer to young people and get them more involved in the way it develops policy and decides where to invest. In particular, it needed to get through to those who were not already engaged with sport.

Our approach

We worked with Sport England on a series of projects spanning three years.

First, an attitudinal segmentation of 14-25-year-olds identified six personas, including sports enthusiasts, cautious introverts and ambitious self-starters. A panel was recruited to represent these personas, that Sport England could tap into at any time.

We built on this with qualitative work to develop a set of principles for communicating with each of these segments, particularly those who were uninterested in or lukewarm about sport. This was shared with everyone from grassroots clubs to the Football Association and the Lawn Tennis Association.

Out of that came an online co-creation project where young people helped to come up with new ways of getting active.

The last piece of research looked at transitions from school to college or university, and how this creates opportunities for young people to try out new activities.

The outcome

The work we conducted helped contribute to a culture change at Sport England, grounding its work in a deeper, first-hand understanding of young people.

It fed into Sport England’s new Towards An Active Nation strategy, which focuses on giving young people “a voice and choice” when it comes to sport and physical activity, and includes a specific commitment to supporting people through the transition from secondary to higher education.

This case study was originally conducted by YouthSight, which were acquired by Savanta in May 2021.

YouthSight helped us start a dialogue with different types of young people, including those who are less active. They have been key in enabling us to effectively engage with this audience.

Sport England

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