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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.

SkillsActive
Castlewood House
77-91 New Oxford Street
London
WC1A 1PX
Advice line: 08000 933300
www.skillsactive.com

sports coach UK
114 Cardigan Road
Headingley
Leeds
LS6 3BJ
Tel: 0113 274 4802
www.sportscoachuk.org

Coaching NI
Queen's PEC
Botanic Gardens
Belfast
BT9 5EX
Tel: 02890 686940
www.coachingni.net

Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM)
ILAM House
Lower Basildon
Reading
RG8 9NE
Tel: 01491 874800
www.ilam.co.uk

British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES)
Leeds Metropolitan University
Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education
Fairfax Hall
Headingley Campus
Beckett Park
Leeds
LS6 3QS
Tel: 0113 283 6162
www.bases.org.uk

National Association for Sports Development (NASD)
PO Box 105
Glossop
SK13 6WP
Tel: 01457 868666
www.nasd.uk.com

Sport England
3rd Floor
Victoria House
Bloomsbury Square
London
WC1B 4SE
Tel: 0845 850 8508
www.sportengland.org

LGcareers
www.lgcareers.com

Courses to help you become a Sports Development Officer