Obesity fears grow as children have less access to sport

It doesn't seem right that children can play football together at school, but can't mix outside of i

Concerns are growing for children's physical and mental health after severe drop in participation in sport - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hundreds of thousands of children are not getting the recommended hour of exercise a day in the wake of the pandemic, it has been warned

An estimated 380,000 children in the region are getting less than 60 minutes exercise a day, with concerns that a lack of grassroots sports has restricted access for many.

Sports clubs were mothballed during lockdown, depriving youngsters of the chance to exercise and analysis by PlayFundWin.com, the digital fundraising platform, shows that many clubs have seen income dry up over the past year and are now struggling.

After months off the pitch, Cornard Dynamos football club has seen a strong return from its junior players.

Chairman of the club, Jonathan Bale, said: "It's been fantastic, we are a volunteer run club and the biggest kick we get out of it is seeing the kids playing football."

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Mr Bale said he was slightly concerned that people would be anxious about returning to the sport, but he has been surprised by the turn out each week - keeping their junior players active.

"To have the clubhouse closed for such a long period of time was a real frustration, and there was a nervousness that some people would be a bit anxious about returning," Mr Bale said.

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"It could have quite easily gone the other way for us."

There are fears for the health of youngsters who have been unable to return as these clubs provide children with vital chances to exercise, with research showing that those who stay active are more than 15 times less likely to suffer from obesity than those who don't. 

Inactivity can also have an effect on children's mental health with data from the fundraising platform showing that children who regularly play team sports feel happier and more satisfied with life when compared to those who do not play sport. Grassroots clubs also help children develop confidence and skills.

Concerns are starting to rise over whether or not this decline in inactivity could have a long-term mental health effect on a whole generation of children whose access to extra-curricular activities has been incredibly limited. 

Dan Schofield, CEO at Play Fund Win said: “We know just how important grassroots clubs and organisations are for maintaining young people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

"With so many clubs across the nation reaching crisis point, fundraising is vital in order to preserve these valued institutions and provide much needed resources and equipment, such as defibrillators."

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