High Cost of Court Hire Killing Indoor Sport

Now that the Olympic Games are just a memory with the best ever coverage of the widest range of sports ever televised it is time to take a reality check on where we are in sport at local and national levels especially with indoor sports like badminton, table tennis, basketball, volleyball and handball.

Kinross Volleyball Club returned yesterday from spending four days at DeKinross VC Haan in Belgium taking part in their 39th International Volleyball Tournament, open to a range of teams competing from recreational level to semi-professional. The Kinross Club has travelled to this tournament for a number of years, initially using the ferry crossing from Rosyth to Zeebrugge but with the withdrawal of this service and no sign of any other company willing to resume this service, has travelled the 300 miles to Hull for the overnight crossing to Belgium.

The Kinross Club took two teams across to Belgium with the first team playing six games of three sets and the recreational side playing eight games of two sets. The cost per player  to attend the tournament including travel, accommodation (free camping) and tournament entry worked out at £100 with the bulk of the cost being the P & O Ferries’ overnight crossings in
4  berth cabins with shower and toilet.

If the Kinross Club had played the same number of sets and games at their home venue, Kinross High School it would have cost them much, much more. To play the equivalent time indoors at Lochleven Community Campus would have cost each player close on £200 in hall hire costs at current Perth & Kinross Council prices.

It is all very well spouting “sporting legacy” from the Olympic Games and the 2014 Commonwealth Games but unless hall hire costs for indoor sports are designed to encourage participation rather than income for local authorities then we will have little chance of seeing indoor sport thrive at grass roots, local and regional levels.

The De Haan Volleyball Club has a three volleyball court hall with the hourly cost for hiring a court being 7 euro. Next year they will have a four court volleyball hall, currently being built next to their existing facilities and the hourly cost per volleyball court will increase to 8 euro.

It is all very well saying that schools have a key role to play in sports’ development but where is that in head teachers’ targets publicised alongside exam results and performances? Head teachers and schools have enough on their plate and yes, Curriculum for Excellence can provide an opportunity for the development of sport but will it ever take the same prominence as exam performance?

If we as a nation want to see indoor sport thrive and encourage youngsters to try new sports they have seen at the Olympics, then national government needs to look at ways of reducing hall hire costs by grants or some other method to support local authorities.

Although not coming anywhere near taking any medals home due to the strength of Belgian volleyball compared to the UK, the Kinross Club members continued to be good ambassadors for their community in their own limited way.

David Munro
Kinross Volleyball Club