Community Sports Hubs – what’s that all about?

How do they work?

Each hub exists to serve its own local community, so there is no standard formula dictating how each hub should operate. There are common goals: growth in participation, engagement with the local community & bringing people together. Some hubs have a physical base (often within a community leisure centre or school), whilst others exist virtually, stretching out over huge rural areas. Most regions have a Community Sports Hub Officer who oversees a group of hubs and keeps everything ticking along.

Orienteering is so unique – are CSHs really relevant?

If you were to stop a passer-by on your local high street and asked them to name the local orienteering club, what would they say? If you reckon they would confidently reel off the name of your club, then give yourself a pat on the back and stop reading this boring little article. If that passer-by is more likely to give you a blank, confused stare then read on…a typical CSH might have between 20 to 30 local sports clubs registered. Runners, footballers, gymnasts & mountain bikers all get connected, and this brings orienteering out of the shadows and into the mainstream. You’ll get to meet committee members from other sports (chances are they’ll have some great ideas you could copy…), promote orienteering at local open days, access funding sources, meet your local Active Schools Coordinators, use meeting rooms – the list goes on and on.


Beyond these practical benefits, I believe there’s a much more important, albeit more abstract, cultural benefit to consider. Orienteering exists on the fringes of Scotland’s sporting scene. It’s tricky to explain our sport, difficult to portray in the media, and most people still haven’t heard of it! We don’t have fixed bases where folks can come to find us, we usually meet in secluded forest venues, and the “pop-up” nature of our events mean that we often come and go without anyone else realising. At times being an “orienteerer” (we’ve all heard that one…) can feel like being part of some secret society. This isn’t healthy for our future. Instead we need to project our clubs right into the heart of local communities. A club that engages with the wider public through the CSH is sending out a loud and clear message – we are open, welcoming and interested in becoming a big, bold part of our local sporting landscape. For this reason the SOA would like to see all open clubs getting involved with their local CSHs.


If you need further convincing, consider the example of European multi-sport clubs. These go a step beyond CSHs in that they actually integrate multiple clubs into one large community organisation. In Germany & Scandinavia in particular, this is a very common philosophy that encourages as much joining up as possible between sports. In the orienteering world there are many examples of this in action, perhaps most famously Halden Skiklubb. Can you take inspiration from their example and form some positive links with other local sports clubs?


How do I register with my local hub?

Most importantly, it’s FREE and always will be. You might already be registered – if so, well done. But keep your eyes open as there are new hubs opening all the time and your club’s patch may well be covered by several different CSHs. If you’re unsure, your first step is to contact either Johannes or Rona – we can put you in touch with your local CSH Officer who will sort the rest for you. Don’t delay – this is a bit of a no-brainer. We would urge you to get it on the agenda at your next committee meeting and get it done.