John Cairney reports from this month's SportScotland conference in Largs.
The contribution of sport and physical fitness to good health in Scotland is not widely enough understood, Alistair Dempster, the new chairman of SportScotland, told delegates to the conference on sports development. He said professionals had to play a more significant role in social inclusion and promote the value of sport in education and lifelong learning. And they must demonstrate sport's ability to generate economic activity by closer links with business and tourism.
"Paramount in anything we do will be the need to set out our objectives and provide clear evidence of our performance," he said." The only way we can attract substantial new money into sport in Scotland is if we can deliver an overwhelming argument based on value for money.
"We must explore creative ways of accessing new funding by developing new partnerships with the new brokers in Scotland. Perhaps we must look more imaginatively at the Government's New Deal programme."
The new director of the Scottish University for Industry, Frank Pignatelli, wearing his previous hat as chief executive of Scottish Business in the Community, urged delegates to cultivate partnerships with senior officers in local government. He commended the business support groups SBIC had established to work with local interests in a number of projects: "We currently have 13 groups chaired by a local business leader. And we are committed to establishing a group in each of the top 24 Social Inclusion Partnership areas in Scotland."