March 20, 2020
Over the last 11 years I have been part of something special with you, the Beyond Sport Family, and experienced how the simple notion of sport’s role in positive social change has become something shared from the smallest NGO to the most powerful and popular of professional sports leagues. Everything from teams, leagues, governments, cities, brands, NGBs and sport celebrities have joined in and we have seen a joyful proliferation of time, commitment and effort to bring the power of sport to people, communities and society.
At the heart of the movement are those of you immersed in the community – entrepreneurs at heart, delivering programmes and innovating how to make impact. You have been inspired to take action around change that needs to happen, and have gone on to inspire others, become experts in your field, and literally change lives through the power of sport.
COVID-19’s impact on sport has been sudden, direct and left us feeling a sense of emptiness. Its impact on those less fortunate has been even greater, effecting those in impoverished, under-served and unequal communities – the very people we as a sector aim to support are at the most risk here.
For us as a community, this is deeply personal – we all set out to change the world and despite all our efforts, we are now facing this. While we face such uncertain times, what I can say is that of the people I have met in my time with Beyond Sport, the leadership of our community has fought many times for what they want, and for what is right, and this will never stop.
Sport’s role in the world will not diminish, and my hope is that it will return with true understanding of its power: that in this hiatus we are connecting, learning, adapting and planning for a new reality.
Next week, Beyond Sport will be launching our Global Awards – never has there been a better time to celebrate what you as a community have achieved. With that, we will also be launching a series of initiatives to help support and connect people in this time. To address challenges, yes, but also to generate ideas, get clarity, and plan for the future. From funders and leagues to the many NGOs out there, we will discuss the complexity we face so that when we return, we do so as better organisations – fit for purpose and ready to make an even greater social impact.
My hope is that as our frantic world hits pause, that we will become more united and more emboldened by our mission that sport can play a greater role in helping heal our planet and the inequality in our society.
I hope you, your family and friends stay healthy and your vison becomes clearer in the next weeks and months. And I hope we can support you as you rebuild and reposition.
Look to build connections for the future. We will be with you.