Where you start doesn’t matter… “My first bat was shaped out of a coconut branch and from that day, all I wanted to do was to be a cricketer.” This was a quote from cricket legend Brian Lara.
At our last webinar we at TeamPolice had a conversation on sport for all and how we can all better promote physical activity for everyone in the policing family.
Helping and contributing to the conversation we had on our panel Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton , Suffolk Police, Detective Chief Superintendent Javid Oomer, Staffordshire Police. Also joining the debate were Peter Darling and Lisa Nicklin-Smith , South Yorkshire and West Midlands Sports and social clubs respectively. Our key business sponsor partner Axon was ably represented by Mike Ashby-Clarke.
We focused on small beginnings and encouraging the wider police family to get into sport and physical activity. Lisa spoke about how important it is for local force clubs to engage first and foremost to encourage everyone to try sports, she highlighted the camaraderie and sense of belonging that is generated through sport and being connected. Peter Darling gave a great example, each year they run “have a go days” and a few years ago one of South Yorkshire’s female detention officers had a go at clay shooting. She went on to win local, regional and national championships and in 2018 represented Scotland at the commonwealth games winning a bronze medal! It just shows that from small beginnings all of us can achieve great things. It might be achieving a 5k park run, starting to play cricket with your mates with a bat fashioned out of a coconut branch or competing in a sport.
We’ve got an opportunity, on the back of Covid, to say that sport is genuinely for everybody and we want everybody to participate at whatever level.
Axon Citizen in Cumbria
DCC for Suffolk Constabulary
DCS for Staffordshire Constabulary
South Yorkshire Sports & Social Club
West Midlands Sports & Social Club
Country Manager of Axon UK
Having served in the Met police for 15 years, Mike Ashby Clarke from Axon stated that supporting TeamPolice was really close to his heart. He emphasised that Axon works primarily for the police force and that they love to give back to the service, not only with sponsorship but also with practical applications such as their free Axon Citizen platform. He talked about how technology is allowing more people to work remotely but that it is really important to realise that work is invading our home lives, family time and leisure time and finding time each day to spend outside with the family on a bike ride or run is really important.
Javid referred to those officers and staff who have retired after 30 years and that sport is a great way of staying connected to the policing family sharing their experience and enthusiasm through sport to younger officers. He addressed the question in Staffordshire of the misconception of not being able to get time off for sport owing to the competing demands on the service. After making a well-reasoned request, and with the support of the Chief Constable, they have now agreed three days per year for police sports. The long term benefits, wellbeing agenda and demonstrating some flexibility meant that the organisation benefited too as a result.
Rachel emphasised that there were different approaches across the country but for Suffolk, being a small force they have tried to proportionately look to the individual to make a contribution in time which is then matched by the force. Being flexible and acknowledging that where an individual’s role allowed them to train or take part in physical activity for a few hours during the day was a flexible way of helping that individual’s fitness and wellbeing. Rachel’s view was that the focus must be on increased participation and inclusivity in sport of all kinds.
Interestingly Rachel proposed – “we probably need to lose a bit of our traditional setup around some of the national competitions ….. And move some of the energies more into family focused and broader family participation …”
It was a great conversation and I was immensely grateful to all our panelists and contributors and of course our business sponsor Axon. The Q & A session once again was lively and challenging, with questions ranging from why retired staff and officers cannot have a form of ID to use force sports facilities, to how money raised for Police sport can be spent to best effect. Listen to the recording below to hear how our panel responded.
Finally I think Rachel summarised the conversation beautifully, “We’ve got an opportunity, on the back of Covid, to say that sport is genuinely for everybody and we want everybody to participate at whatever level.”