Kerry Ann Sheppard says we need to create a healthier Wales where we move because we want to.
There’s often confusion around which word to use – is it sport, exercise, physical activity? For me, it doesn’t matter. I want to help create a Wales that moves more and that is happier and healthier – and a Wales where our children are less at risk of being obese and developing a life threatening disease. I make no apology for the morbid introduction.
This was the purpose of the ‘Acting Today for an Active Tomorrow report’ launched last week by the Sport Wales Advisory Group has done. This hasn’t relied on crystal balls or psychics but rather drilling down into data and evidence of headwinds, tailwinds and mega trends.
So, what kind of Wales are we working towards as a result of this research? A Wales where we move everyday because we want to – it’s the norm and we like it. We don’t have excuses like “I don’t have enough time”, or “I’m tired after work” or “it’s too expensive” – we just get on and do. I suppose it’s a bit like brushing our teeth or washing our face. We do these two things because they make us healthier, makes us feel better and I suppose maybe just because everyone else does. So how do we make this a reality in Wales? There are two fundamental principles; (1) policy empowers people (2) people have the mindset to move.
How we go about creating these two fundamental principles? Take engaging consumers as our starting point. In 2026 what will we want? The evidence points towards people valuing flexibility, novelty, variety, personalisation, image and all supported by expert advice. We’re going to want products and services that fit around us, that don’t become stale and which provide novel (although still quite familiar as to not see us running out of the door!) experiences on a regular basis. We care what others think about us so we want to be involved in things that project a positive image of who we are and what we’re about.
Risk is the core – we want minimum risk. No long contracts, no long seasons, and, nothing that will hurt us – our image or our bodies! The extent to which the consumer of the future will want to be put first, is going to change –in a BIG way.
How many of us have played a certain sport or gone to the same gym or fitness class our entire lives? I haven’t and it’s likely you haven’t either and in the future we won’t be able to count on blind loyalty. A member of your netball team last season may or may not join you for the following season. We change what we like, fads hook us in and we drift away. The constant to create is that everyday we’re moving, it doesn’t matter how , just that it’s happening.
We’re all getting on a bit and we’re living in an ageing society. That may sound negative, but it’s not because what we will have in the future are a bunch of older people that don’t actually consider themselves as old. Which means when I’m 70, I will want to keep playing sport and I’ll want sport to offer products that suit me. Like the report suggests, I won’t feel at 70 that I am too old to move and just because I’ve reached a certain number I am suppose to do what 70 year olds are suppose to do.
We’re all probably going to become more busy – time poor with demanding lives. Gone are the days when team sports can take up our whole evenings and weekends.
And of course, we can’t talk about the future with touching on the Digital Revolution. I remember my first mobile phone. I was 15. It had an aerial! Today, apps, websites, social networks have enabled sport products and services to have global reach. As our needs change, as we drop in and out of different sports and we need to have the data and insight to know what we want to fall into next.
As austerity continues and our ageing population grows, keeping active is vital. So, my challenge to you…if you have the power to act, then have the courage to be bold, sit in a quiet corner, read this report, share with others and let the ideas pour into action.