onsıde| ISSUE 39 THE INTERVIEW: TRACEY CROUCH 8 start to play football competitively. A lot has changed since those days, for the better. RORY: As well as playing, you have coached for many years. Did coaching a girls’ team teach you anything? TRACEY: When you coach or manage any group of individuals, whether in the work place or in a sporting environment, you should learn a lot from them and hopefully they learn a lot from you too. I took my girls’ team from Under-10 to Under-18 level and then the senior ladies’ team before they went off to university. I saw them grow up not just as youngsters into young women, but also grow as football players. It is enormously fulfilling to see that happen. RORY: Away from football for a moment – what first drew you towards politics? TRACEY: I do not really know how I ended up in politics, or indeed sport! My parents were not interested in either, so how I ended up as Sports Minister I think is an outcome predicted by nobody. I liked politics at school and my local MP at the time was keen to get people involved. After that, I got the bug and never really stopped. RORY: Previously, you had five years serving on the Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee. How did that prepare you to take on the role of Sports Minister? TRACEY: When I served on a Select Committee, I got to learn a lot more about the policies in detail and see things from a very different perspective. The role of the Committee is to scrutinise what the Government is doing. You have to be an effective check on the executive. Now, my role is on the other side. I am hoping that the Committee is looking at what I am doing in a favourable light and trying to ensure that we deliver policy that is right for the nation. RORY: On that, you have launched the first Sports Strategy by a government in 13 years: Sporting Future – A New Strategy for an Active Nation. How is the implementation of that going? TRACEY: The Sports Strategy was really a key moment in what the Government wants to deliver. We had not had a strategy for over a decade and it was time to refresh how we delivered sport across the nation. After a year, the implementation is going well but there is still lots to be done. It was never going to be completed within a short amount of time but we are certainly heading in the right direction. RORY: You’ve worked with the Premier League, The FA, and Sport England to significantly increase the combined investment into grassroots facilities through the Football Foundation. How will that support your strategy? TRACEY: What the Football Foundation does is enormously important. The fact that it is partnered between the major agencies within football is hugely significant. It means that we are all working towards the same goal, which is to ensure that the right facilities are in place for our communities. That is something that we want to see in order to grow the next generation of talent. KEY POINTS FROM THE SPORTS STRATEGY TRACEY SPEARHEADED INCLUDE: • A focus on tackling inactivity • Engaging under- represented groups • Shift in focus from Over-14s to anyone from five years old to pensioners • New KPIs to measure outcomes • New volunteering strategy • And five key outcomes from sporting activity identified: 1. Physical wellbeing 2. Mental wellbeing 3. Individual development 4. Social and community development 5. Economic development “WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE CONTINUE TO GROW THE FEMALE GAME ACROSS ALL LEVELS OF FOOTBALL, FROM LITTLE GIRLS STARTING TO PLAY ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP.”