Club night at Barton CC

Sport isn't just about a game of bat and ball - it transforms lives

Jim Parker

We had more than 50 youngsters at our last club night. I am talking cricket and Barton Cricket Club here.

Many of the children were taking part in the England and Wales Cricket Board’s ‘All Stars’ programme which introduces the game to the five to eight-year-olds.

The reason we have such good numbers is because of a brilliant, new partnership with the school next door – Torquay Academy and inspirational head Steve Margetts – and the fact that we have engaged with other primary schools around us and actually send in coaches to work with the children in regular, weekly sessions.

Many of these youngsters – boys and girls of all abilities – are now taking part in the Friday night club nights. While they are being coached, their mums, dads, aunties and uncles can enjoy a drink in the bar.  They are all encouraged to join the club as social members. Hopefully, some will end up playing – a couple mums have already signed up for our Barton Belles ladies team. Everyone’s a winner and it’s all good for the future of the club.

But for me this isn’t just about a game of bat and  ball. Some of the schools around us have little or poor sports facilities. As a club we also sit in  the middle of some of the most deprived wards in the country which  brings its own challenges with it – things like poverty, child poverty and health and wellbeing issues like obesity and mental health problems.

It is amazing what a major and positive impact sport and physical activity can have in these areas. And now several key partners in the Bay are working together to make sure we capitalise on that. For me sport, physical activity and health and wellbeing are interwoven and all one and the same.

As chairman of Sport Torbay, I have been privileged to play a part in this – ‘resetting’ sport, mapping areas where sport and physical activity can  help local communities and the people who live in  them.

Enter Torbay on the Move.

This is a relatively new initiative to get people more physically active which has only recently taken a major step forward after Torbay Councl’s Cabinet approved proposals to progress the project

Torbay on the Move aims to improve the physical and mental health of residents in the Bay by increasing activity levels, at whatever their stage of life.

Data from Sport England’s Adult Active Lives Survey shows that one in four in Torbay are physically inactive.

The inactivity figure for adults living in areas of highest deprivation rises to one in three.

Research shows that individuals with a long-term health condition or disability are twice as likely to be inactive and in Torbay, 24 per cent of adults live with a long-term health condition or disability.

Last year, Torbay Council, in partnership with Active Devon, held a review of Torbay on the Move which saw consultation with the public, partners and key stakeholders and responses from those formed the recommendations that went to Cabinet.

The report recommended that members agree eight strategic outcomes for Torbay on the Move. These are:

· Active Environments

· Active Travel

· Active Schools

· Active Health

· Active Clubs

· Active Places

· Active for All

· Active Workforces

Members approved the formation of a group to oversee Torbay on the Move’s rollout by developing a strategy document based on these themes, and to promote these themes among council departments to help people be more active.

Mike Morey, cabinet member for infrastructure, environment and culture, said: “We know that activity levels are low among some of our communities, and this was particularly true during the pandemic.

“Increasing activity levels of people in the Bay has several benefits. It will improve the health and wellbeing of residents, which should see a reduced demand on health services.

“It also has advantages for the local economy and the environment. For example, if we can get people walking and cycling more, we’ll see cleaner air, less carbon produced and cleaner and safer roads.

“We particularly want to ensure that Torbay on the Move supports people on lower incomes or with long-term health problems.

“It’s vital that this is a shared vision that is owned by the whole of Torbay and acted upon by the whole of Torbay.”

Torbay on the Moved fits like a glove with Sport England’s current Uniting the Movement strategy to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity so there may be some funding available.

It also ties in neatly with the new Torbay Story where we are trying to tell the outside world and potential investors what a great place the English Riviera is to live, work and invest in and with our naturally inspiring natural environment it’s also somewhere you can lead a happy and healthy life.

It’s not just about that bat and ball!