From football and rugby to tennis and dance classes, youth sports in the UK have become increasingly expensive in recent years. Extracurricular activities provide many benefits for children and teens – they learn teamwork, responsibility, discipline, and keep active and healthy. However, the costs can quickly add up and become a financial burden on families, especially those on limited budgets.
Registration fees, equipment, uniforms, private coaching or lessons, tournament travel, and more pile onto already stretched wallets. A 2022 survey found that UK parents now spend around £28k on extracurricular activities and hobbies until a child reaches the age of 18. With everything else families need to afford, from housing to groceries to childcare, how can you provide your kids with sports opportunities without breaking the bank?
Get Strategic with Registration
Most youth sports offer early bird registration discounts, sibling discounts, volunteer coupons, and scholarship programmes. Do your homework and ask clubs and schools what cost savings programmes are available so you can take advantage right from the start.
Don’t push your children into participating in sports they aren’t sure about, but if they are keen, let them do some trial sessions if possible before you commit to buying equipment and other essentials internet chicks.
Buy Equipment Second-Hand
Used sporting goods are significantly cheaper than brand-new ones. Check charity shops, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and ask other parents if they have any equipment their kids have outgrown. Some sports clubs or schools also have gear exchanges. Just be sure to replace safety equipment like helmets when buying second-hand.
Seek Out Low-Cost Community Programmes
Check your local community centres, places of worship, parks departments, and schools for affordable or free youth sport options. Many offer instructional programmes, youth leagues, clinics and camps for minimal fees. These programmes rely on public funding and volunteers to keep costs down.
Earn Discounts Through Volunteering
Most clubs and teams depend on parent volunteers for things like coaching, leading practices, coordinating snacks/meals, running carpools, and organising fundraisers chargomez1. Volunteering your time can earn you reduced or waived registration fees for your child. Even things like selling raffle tickets or working concessions can offset costs.
Fundraise for Fees
If a travel tournament or pricey private coaching is beyond your means, set up an online fundraising campaign through sites like GoFundMe. Share your child’s story and money goals with friends and family. They may offer small donations that can add up quickly. Alternatively, your child can get involved by doing chores for relatives to earn funds.
If you have foster children, you can use your fostering allowance to help cover the cost of sports and other activities.
While youth sports expenses will likely continue rising, some strategic planning can help UK families keep their kids active without tanking their budgets. With a mix of cost-saving strategies like buying second-hand gear, participating in community low-cost programmes, earning volunteer discounts, fundraising, and reusing older siblings’ equipment – you can afford to keep your child learning valuable skills on the field or court.