Sport and physical activity have the power to change lives and can be an intentional tool to provide wider social outcomes beyond participation.
Ross Hutton, Netball Scotland regional development manager, is one of 47 Changing Lives Champions from the professional sporting staff system in Scotland who will go through the journey of embedding a changing lives approach within his work in 2021.
The Champions programme provides understanding, knowledge, skills, confidence and enthusiasm to help clubs and community organisations operate more effectively and deliver impactful services in their communities.
We caught up with Ross as he looks forward to beginning his journey as a Changing Lives Champion.
Why did you want to be part of the Changing Lives Champions programme?
My main aim at Netball Scotland is to help identify gaps or areas where more support and guidance is required to ensure that people can enjoy a better netball experience. Whether they are just starting, playing for fun or the next Thistle, I want to make sure they have the opportunity to enjoy every moment.
I have lived and breathed the ‘changing lives through sport’ concept for the past 16 years so I was keen to not only learn new ways of thinking and doing things, but also to impart things I have learned to others.
What do you hope to gain from being part of the programme?
I would like to take what I have learned and put it into practice within the world of netball as well as develop new partnerships which will benefit the people within Scotland.
How are you looking to install your learning into your own work?
We have created a focus group at Netball Scotland which consists of my colleague Craig Smith, who was in cohort 1 and now a mentor, as well as fellow cohort 2 colleague Rebecca Hope. We are committed to implementing what we have learned to the Netball Scotland strategic vision.
Since I joined Netball Scotland I have driven forward the topic of mental health and wellbeing and ensured we signed up to Scotland's Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport. It was already high on the agenda for the governing body and everyone is on the same page so that made it so much easier to press forward.
Since then we have had all our staff complete the e-learning module on mental health awareness as well as 50 of our national hub athletes.
How can we understand what communities want and need so sport can respond to this and be more inclusive?
Over the past 10 months we have carried out a massive consultation process with local associations, clubs, Bounce Back to Netball activators and local partners. This has provided Netball Scotland with information which paints a more accurate picture of what people need and want as well as put plans in place to make sure progress is made.
We have also started the Netball Scotland Young People’s Forum (for young people between 13 and 21) which is a platform for young people to share their views on the direction of netball, to learn new things and give them the opportunity help shape netball locally and nationally.
What else has Netball Scotland been doing to make netball a more inclusive and diverse sport?
Our Thistle Mark award provides clubs with everything they need to ensure their club is managed in a way that will encourage growth, sustainability and by adopting our inclusion policy, clubs are committed to providing opportunities for all within netball.
Our netball provision covers the very young both boys and girls (fun 5s) through to the older population (Walking Netball) and everything in between. Whether you want to play competitively or just for fun (Bounce Back to Netball) we have opportunities for all. We also have opportunities that aren't around participating that allow people to officiate, coach or mentor.