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Monday, 06 July 2015

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Bringing sport to the community at large

sport for all: Players from the Allerdale v Copeland hockey teams fight for the ball during last summer’s Cumbria Youth Games

SPORTS development officers aim to improve access to and develop more public interest in sport and physical activity. They organise sporting related projects, information and training for both the competitive and leisure user in all sections of society in order to increase levels of participation.

The role involves working with a wide range of organisations to use local resources and build on any regional or national initiatives.

The nature of the role can vary and may focus on promoting sport and health in general, promoting a specific sport or developing the awareness of disability within sport.

The variety of activities that a sports development officer could become involved with includes identifying sport, recreation and health initiatives; liaising with clubs, schools, professional and sports governing bodies; identifying potential opportunities for external funding; co-ordinating and delivering relevant activities and events; attending local, regional and national meetings, seminars and conferences; promoting events; and maintaining links with county, regional and national sporting representatives.

A specialised post, such as a disability sports development officer, may also involve training and educating coaches, volunteers and facilities staff in disability issues; using information and publicity to ensure people with disabilities are more aware of the sporting opportunities available to them; and organising sport-specific activities.

Salary and conditions

RANGE of typical starting salaries: assistant sports development officer, £12,900 to £16,700; sports development officer, £17,922 to £23,000; specialist sports development officer, £20,833 to £22,289.

A sports development manager can earn up to £40,000.

Specialisation and nationwide responsibility may be reflected in the salary on offer.

A willingness to work flexible and unsocial hours, including weekends and school holidays, is essential as working hours typically include evening meetings and occasional absences from home.

Work can involve spending periods of time outdoors in all weathers overseeing the smooth running of activities, although sports development officers spend much of their time based indoors carrying out administrative tasks.


Entry requirements

THIS career is open to all graduates and diploma holders, but the following subjects may increase your chances: sports science/studies; leisure studies; health and exercise sciences; physical education; recreation/leisure management; and business/management.

Entry without a degree or HND is possible. In this case, coaching qualifications and related work experience may increase your chances.

Pre-entry work experience in community, sport, school or voluntary organisations is essential.

Potential candidates will need to show an ability to make decisions under pressure and self-motivation and the ability to motivate others.

They will need excellent communication skills, both written and oral, to communicate effectively with all sections of the community, and the ability to work with other individuals in a group setting. Excellent organisation, administration and IT skills and a practical commitment to sport are also expected.

Making contacts within the sports development sector through work experience will improve your chances of success.


SPORT England, which has regional training units, and SkillsActive offer courses and qualifications, including NVQs/SVQs, within the sports development sector.

The National Association for Sports Development (NASD) provides information on the professionalism of sports development staff in line with the government strategy, A Sporting Future for All.

Training is also available through Sports Coach UK, which offers, for example, high performance coaching workshops.

Some universities offer conintual professional development through Learning at Work, a modular distance-learning package.

Knowledge and competence in other areas is becoming increasingly important and you may be interested in taking an additional course in marketing, finance and human resource management.



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