The Commonwealth has a multisport event that can gather it’s member nations together to show off their best abilities in a shared common culture. I continue to advocate for it’s mission in humanity, equality and destiny with sports that have impact on communities within the Commonwealth. In 2014 I was a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and I was amazed by it’s impact on the city and the lives of the people living and working there.
I got to see so many amazing things that represented the Commonwealth with cultural events, business opportunities, encouraging sports participation, improvements in the livelihood of housing and the welfare of people. This can be an objective of the Commonwealth as Britain leaves the European Union. Charity and social enterprise doesn’t work to get people out of poverty, it just gives money for people to get by on subsidised handouts. What we ought to be doing is doing business with these countries for a social objective.
Three months after the Glasgow CWG I started a campaign to make archery a core sport in the Commonwealth Games. I have been playing archery for years and I have had aspirations to play for England at a future Games. However eventually I found myself pre-occupied with other things that changed my direction on playing professionally. This led to me applying my activism to my sports aspirations. In doing so I started advocating archery by looking at ways to sell it and to get people to appreciate it’s value.
The Commonwealth Games has two categories of sports which it uses to allow host nations to have flexibility in the games, core and optional. The core sports are hosted as central to the games and the optional sports are for the host city to decide to include. Archery has only been played twice in the history of the CWG in Brisbane 1982 and New Delhi 2010. There are several other sports with optional status like rowing, shooting, ten pin bowling, wrestling and basketball. There is also a third category known as recognised sports that are not on the CWG’s programme like sailing and billiards(snooker and pool).
Sports organisations are funded through a combination of sponsorship and public investment combined with the revenue they get from broadcasting and ticket sales. The National Lottery provides a fund to certain sports on the basis of medal winning potential rather than investment funds for participation. The problem with minority sports like archery is that they don’t have a good business case and the people who run them don’t know how to sell their sports effectively. Hence their miniscule revenue stream and lack of visibility in the mainstream.
As my campaign progressed I found a solution within the Commonwealth Games mission that could make archery more active and use it to increase trade and development within the Commonwealth. The CGF is looking for ways to work more closely with it’s members. CEO David Grevemberg of the CWG said that it is now more of a ‘social purpose movement’, which makes it different and distinct from the Olympics. As a political activist and a sports advocate I can see an opportunity and a social objective mission for the Commonwealth in ways that embody equality, diversity and shared values.
I’ve seen the film Invictus, which tells the story of how Nelson Mandela assigned the South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar to win the world cup in 1995. This involved using the rugby team as a tool for civil co-operation to bring the racially and economically divided post-apartheid era into mutual harmony. So inspired by this story it gave me an idea to use this as an example to combine the mission of the Commonwealth and minority sports community together for a purpose. My campaign for core archery in the Commonwealth isn’t just about promoting a sport, it’s about putting the ‘wealth’ back into the Commonwealth.
Several of my political friends including MPs, councillors and other dignitaries have got behind this idea for the benefit of the communities they represent. Some of them are Commonwealth advocates like Andrew Rosindell who has given support to my campaign and reckons that sports have tremendous value to the Commonwealth. Some of the Scottish Government including Ruth Davidson are pleased with my efforts for making the legacy of Glasgow 2014 inspire a movement such as this.
To execute it would require some investment and global exporting. What I am proposing is to set up a branch of the Commonwealth Games Federation that collaborates with the Commonwealth organisation. This branch is a sports development agency which runs a franchising operation of minority sports. The CGF would go out and set up sports venues on purchased land with the premises inside the building leased to franchisees. They will run sports social clubs for archery, rowing, basketball, netball, billiards, shooting, ten pin bowling, etc.
instead of marketing them as sports, they are marketed as community enterprises. As well as selling them to the communities they are based in. In the case of archery it would involve marketing it to the science fantasy fanbase, mental health groups and individuals, amateur dramatics societies, connected Commonwealth cultures and environmental conservation groups. As an autistic person and a sci-fi fanboy I have been tempted to try archery before the Olympics came to London in 2012 but there was no advertising that directed me to the nearest archery club. It’s been a great help for my mental health as 90% of archery requires good strong mental faculties. Having shot in some really good outdoor places, nature conservationists will probably welcome archery to show people how to appreciate the environment. Including rowing which takes place on rivers that need serious attention for the plastic pollution that litters the seas.
This will lead to a number of benefits and improvements to the minority sports. One of them being that will lead to an increased presence of archery, rowing, sailing and billiards in the mainstream. Another is it will lead to greater capital for the minority sports business which in turn fuels increasing sales for bows, arrows, boats, oars, snooker cues and so on.
There is more than that for the Commonwealth nations, it will lead to a healthy active lifestyle. It will create a constructive relationship to help other countries move forward. There is currently a rise in productivity across the Commonwealth highlighted by the World Bank. That can produce real economic advantage for a prosperous trading block that can strengthen and intensify that unity using sporting nations playing together for a common objective.