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Commonwealth Games legacy delivering change for East End of Glasgow

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Around eight per cent of people in the East End of Glasgow have taken up a new sport – or are spending more time playing a sport already familiar to them – after being inspired by the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The figure comes from a new study conducted by the University of Glasgow, which questioned residents about their habits and views two years prior to the Games (summer 2012) – and re-evaluated them soon after the Games in 2014-15.

As well as an increased uptake in new sports, the report – called GoWell East: studying change in Glasgow’s East End – shows a sharp increase (14 per cent) in residents’ satisfaction in local sports facilities.

A number of existing facilities were rejuvenated for the Games, while a new, multi-use venue – the Emirates Arena – was built in the East End, comprising five-aside football pitches, an indoor 200m running track, indoor sports courts, a community health club and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

The Games have also had a positive impact on general infrastructure, with 59 per cent of people saying their neighbourhood had become a better place to live over the past two years.

Professor Ade Kearns, principal investigator on the study, said: “In general, our findings indicate that the Commonwealth Games were a positive experience for many of the people we interviewed in the East End of Glasgow.

“More importantly, however, the regeneration process is producing improvements, some faster and some slower than others, that offer the prospect of future gains to quality of life and health and wellbeing in the area.”

Stewart Harris, CEO of sportscotland, welcomed the findings: “This supports the view that the Games were a positive experience for people in the East End of Glasgow, and they now have world-class sporting venues, such as the Glasgow Hockey Centre, Tollcross Swimming Centre, and the Emirates Arena and Velodrome, that are being used by many in the local community.”

Speaking to Sports Management Kearns said he was, however, slightly disappointed in the way the report and its largely positive findings ended up being portrayed in some media.

The Independent and The Herald were among the newspapers to report that people living close to the Games venues were now “playing less sport and taking less exercise than they did before the event”.

While Kearns says the report does show a decline in overall participation, he points out that could be due to the fact that people were questioned at different times of the year.

“The fall in physical activity we see in the study may be explained by seasonal differences, and the disruptive effects of the Games themselves might also be a factor” Kearns said.

“While the 2012 survey was conducted in the summer period, from May to August, the post-Games took place from October 2014 to February 2015. So the two figures aren’t strictly comparable. Research generally indicates that people are more active in the summer months”.

“We’re planning a third wave of questionnaires in summer 2016, so until that has been completed we can’t be sure of the scale or significance of any fall in sports participation.

“The reports that have concentrated on that figure – while ignoring the other findings – isn't unexpected, of course, but slightly disappointing.”

• To download and read the full report (as a PDF document), click here.

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Around eight per cent of people in the East End of Glasgow have taken up a new sport – or are spending more time playing a sport already familiar to them – after being inspired by the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
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