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How to become a Sports Development Officer

sports development officer careers

What does a Sports Development Officer do?

Sports development officers (SDOs) ensure that people of all ages and levels of ability have the opportunity to take part in sport and develop their skills. They may aim to increase levels of participation, improve the quality of existing provision or improve performance to achieve excellence, and may be involved in shaping policy or putting local and national policy into practice.

SDOs work with local communities and other organisations to ensure that local resources are utilised and funding is accessed. Their activities may help in increasing activity (and therefore health), neighbourhood regeneration, development of skills in the community, improving social integration and supporting initiatives to reduce crime and rehabilitate young offenders.

They work closely with the local community, schools, clubs and volunteers to coordinate access to sport and activities, and promote leisure events. Most SDOs enter this field through coaching, and are often qualified to coach a number of different sports or activities.

SDOs may promote sport in general, working for a County Sports Partnership or local authority, or may be sports specific development officers (SSDOs), concentrating on a specific sport and working for a national governing body of sport (NGB).

What's the working environment like working as a Sports Development Officer?

The hours may vary from week to week and will involve some unsocial hours in order to cover times when people are utilising their leisure. SDOs may be based in an office during the day, carrying out administrative aspects of the job, and spend the evenings and weekends visiting community groups, schools, events, sports venues and meetings. The work involves a lot of local travel for SDOs and regional travel for SSDOs, so a driving licence is likely to be required.

Although SDOs will not usually join in with the activities they have organised, they may have to be present to ensure they run smoothly. This can involve hours spent outside in all weathers.

What does it take to become a Sports Development Officer?

To be a sports development officer you should:

  • be enthusiastic about sports and coaching, and the principles of healthy living
  • have excellent communication skills
  • be equally confident and efficient working alone or as a member of a team
  • have leadership and organisational skills
  • be flexible and adaptable to suit any situation
  • be IT literate and have good administrative skills
  • enjoy working with individuals and groups from all social and cultural backgrounds, of all ability levels, and in a range of environments
  • be able to think on your feet.

Sports Development Officer Career Opportunities

Typical employers include local authorities, youth organisations, NGBs, Sports Councils and universities. Most SDOs have short fixed term contracts, which are dependent on funding being available.

Promotion is possible, but opportunities are limited and usually involve relocating. SDOs may move into the sport and leisure contractor field or into management of health and fitness programmes.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Sports Development Officer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Castlewood House
77-91 New Oxford Street
Advice line: 08000 933300

sports coach UK
114 Cardigan Road
Tel: 0113 274 4802

Coaching NI
Queen's PEC
Botanic Gardens
Tel: 02890 686940

Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM)
ILAM House
Lower Basildon
Tel: 01491 874800

British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES)
Leeds Metropolitan University
Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education
Fairfax Hall
Headingley Campus
Beckett Park
Tel: 0113 283 6162

National Association for Sports Development (NASD)
PO Box 105
SK13 6WP
Tel: 01457 868666

Sport England
3rd Floor
Victoria House
Bloomsbury Square
Tel: 0845 850 8508


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