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Sports development officer: Job description

Sports development officers aim to provide opportunities for participation in sport for all sections of the community. They distribute information and organise sport-related projects, classes, programmes, coaching, club development and training. They target those who want to take part for fun as well as those who are interested in competing at all levels, from local to national and international.

The central aim is to increase participation in sport of all kinds, but sports development officers address issues of health, crime and social inclusion as well, often working with organisations such as:

  • the NHS;
  • schools;
  • charities;
  • sport national governing bodies (NGBs); 
  • regeneration initiatives.

They also work in partnership with government bodies to deliver government sports initiatives.

Typical work activities

The tasks that sports development officers could become involved with include:

  • identifying sport, recreation and health initiatives and overseeing strategic planning and implementation;
  • coordinating, delivering and promoting relevant activities, classes and events, often within a specific community or to targeted groups;
  • employing, training, supporting, developing and managing coaches and volunteer staff;
  • raising public awareness of health and fitness issues and promoting participation in sport, particularly amongst underrepresented groups;
  • evaluating and monitoring activities and projects using performance indicators;
  • maintaining records and producing written reports;
  • attending local, regional and national meetings, seminars and conferences;
  • checking venues and managing facilities;
  • liaising with clubs to develop best practice in coaching, youth development and issues such as safeguarding to manage clubs effectively;
  • working in partnership with school initiatives such as active schools, to encourage participation in sport and organise parental involvement;
  • working with national governing bodies (NGBs) for specific sports in relation to clubs and events;
  • developing a range of partnerships with organisations and initiatives focused on health education, criminal justice and community regeneration;
  • managing resources and a budget and identifying potential opportunities for external funding;
  • maintaining links with county, regional and national sporting representatives and organisations;
  • working within specific guidelines, e.g. equal opportunities, health and safety, child protection;
  • offering coaching and supervision when appropriate.

A specialised post, such as a disability sports development officer, may also involve the following activities:

  • educating and training coaches, volunteers and facilities staff. Experts in disability awareness may also be called on, where appropriate;
  • using information and publicity to ensure people with disabilities are more aware of the sporting opportunities available to them;
  • working in partnership with appropriate organisations to deliver a programme of activities;
  • organising sport-specific activities and maintaining inclusivity in sports. 

Further information


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Written by Rachel Taylor, University of Edinburgh
January 2014

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