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Major sporting events are having positive social impact across the UK

4 min read Partner content

Alongside the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and The National Lottery, we are proud to have supported two World Championships that showcased the power sporting events can have to improve people’s lives and local communities across the UK.

In 2022 the World Gymnastics Championships was hosted in Liverpool whilst the Rugby League World Cup was hosted in cities and towns across England.

Both impact reports have been released and demonstrate the incredible impact these events have had on the British economy and local communities.

New report shows long-lasting social impact of Rugby League World Cup

A new report published today has praised the significant social impact delivered off the pitch by last year’s Rugby League World Cup (RLWC2021). Pioneering a unique delivery model for social impact, UK Sport has hailed RLWC2021 as an exemplar social impact programme that will set the standard for future sporting events, using an approach that puts social impact at the heart of planning and delivery.

The report, commissioned by RLWC2021 and delivered by The Sports Consultancy and Substance, found that RLWC2021 and its social impact programmes have “demonstrated meaningful impacts for those that watched, engaged, attended and took part”. Because of the geographic footprint, and impact of the tournament’s social impact programmes, 96% of the public believe that hosting RLWC benefitted the North of England. 

Led by £30 million of investment, the tournament achieved its ambition of making a positive difference in communities, in grassroots rugby league clubs, and in the lives of people living across the country, especially in the most deprived areas of England.

The Rugby League World Cup’s social impact programme focused on six key strands:

  1. Creating strong communities through new community hubs, new social connections, increased civic pride and increased volunteerism
  2. Growing the game through increased participation and interest in rugby league
  3. Stimulating physical activity and health
  4. Improving mental wellbeing and increased awareness of mental fitness
  5. Developing people through new skills and knowledge
  6. Boosting the economy, particularly in more deprived areas and creating more financially sustainable community clubs and more commercial interest in rugby league

In particular, the report highlighted the positive impact that RLWC2021 had on community cohesion and how social impact programmes “brought communities together, broke down barriers, changed perceptions and gave people something to be proud of.”

As a trailblazing, purpose-driven tournament that put making a positive impact on people at its heart, RLWC2021 was truly pioneering in its approach to social impact. By focusing on delivering social impact prior to and during the event, rather than as a post-event legacy, 300 mental fitness workshops had been delivered to 11,922 young people, volunteers were already working with community rugby league clubs before the tournament got underway, with the majority of facility improvement projects completed before the first kick of a ball – with the platform of the tournament itself then also used to maximise engagement with communities and deliver tangible social impact. 


World Gymnastics Championships 2023 major event impact report

An independent study into the impact of the World Gymnastics Championships 2022 (WGC2022), which took place in the M&S Bank Arena from 29 October to 6 November 2022, has been published, detailing some impressive findings and proving the event was a legacy-defining moment for the city.

The event is found to have generated a massive £5.6 million for the local economy, welcoming 35,406 spectators who on average spent £249.47 per person and booking 25,033 bed nights throughout the Championships.

When analysing the audience, 82 per cent of attendees came from outside of the Liverpool City Region, with 60 per cent staying overnight. Overseas visitors made up 8 per cent of the visits and for nearly 11,000 people it was their first visit to Liverpool.

As for the legacy of the event, funding has already been committed to ensure a further 20 schools will receive coaching in 2023/24, with increasing the total of youngsters involved in gymnastic activities to over 3,000. As part of the British Gymnastics ‘Love to Move’ programme which works with people with dementia, 11 people have been trained as instructors with a further 12 currently being processed – all will work with care homes and in community settings across Liverpool. And more than 30 of the volunteers who signed up for WGC2022, have gone on to gain national coaching and personal development accreditation and will work with four gymnastics clubs across the city.


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