Is Sport Still Relevant to the RAFAC?

This goes a little outside the topic (well a separate topic really), but is sport relevant anymore? A lot is done is schools, it’s time consuming & it’s expensive to support.

I would argue yes because, the RAFAC’s aims incude:
1 - Provide training which will be useful in the Services and civilian life
2 - Encourage the spirit of adventure…

Both of these can be ticked off to a greater or lesser degree with sport.

Sport is very much a part of RAF/service life and so as a youth group emulating the RAF experience Sport has as much validity as shooting, AT or fieldcraft.

I recognise that the “training” we “provide” for “service life” is less directly obvious with sport, but can include a mindset and ethos to consider - if sport is part of the RAFAC offering it is because the RAF/service life has a similar outlook and approach to sports


Then wider question - does the method/manner in which we offer sports deliver this aim. Does it do so to a greater or lesser extent than schools and other clubs/local organisations?

The three wing sport competitions are the closest you get to “mass participation” & even then they are a bit of a chore.

I would argue that sport does not meet either of those two aims of the organisation, is something widely available across communities, & is accessible & to a higher standard than can be provided by the ATC.

With sport being so commonplace I would argue that is doesn’t encourage that sport of adventure as it is a normalised activity commonly available in school playgrounds at lunch time. It doesn’t enable the individual to expand or progress their personal boundaries.

& as a tenuous link back to the main topic - do we need a PTS for sport?

With all the activities we do the question should be

  1. is it delivered by other organisations or only a small number of local specialist groups (I.e. is there a gap in the market)
  2. can we deliver in a sustainable way to the standard required by that market that fills that gap?

I think if sport was delivered in terms of circuit training and doing the beep test with cadets/staff then I feel your statement would stand but not with how sport is currently delivered.

Now 2nd tenuous link, one thing that does skew the engagement surveys when this question is asked are the “badge collectors” & ideological cadets who believe everything we currently do is right and there is no need for changes.

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I completely see where you are coming from, and I don’t disagree but

i think approaching with this view is too blunt and narrow minded

there are civilian shooting clubs which better serve shooting opportunities than the RAFAC can
there are civilian flying/gliding clubs which better service shooting opportunities than than RAFAC can
there are canoe/kayak clubs, climbing clubs. mountain bike clubs who can all better service those RAFAC opportunities than the RAFAC can
there are amateur radio clubs that can better service the radio/communications opportunities than the RAFAC can
there are the St John’s who are far better at offering first aid opportunities than the RAFAC can…

the list will go on…

but the RAFAC is the only one who can provide the “RAF experience” which is a broad, wide reaching experience.
if we drop sports then what next, radio, shooting or even the uniform as it can be better delivered by someone else/already experienced in schools?

I am not disagreeing there are many who do sports better than the RAFAC, be it football, rugby, netball, hockey, swimming or athletics based clubs and teams to join and agree what many Squadrons provide/deliver is little more than a repeat of what is already covered in schools…but it is about the whole package that the RAFAC offers, which when brought together makes it the RAFAC the RAFAC by adopting the the same ethos as the RAF.

i fully agree that the two aims I mentioned are not ticked well by sport alone - you are bang on there. but i my opinion it is included as part of the “service life” and the spirit of adventure - be that a session on a climbing wall, having a paddle in a kayak or going on a international skiing trip

I would disagree that “activity commonly available in school playgrounds” is an accurate comment for all the sport we offer.
Yes 99% of the sport Squadron provide within a parade evening will be football or rounders at the local park, but we offer much more than that - climbing, mountain bikes, archery, watersports, clay pigeon - none of which was available to me in my school lunchtimes


As long as the RAF, as parent service, continue to run elite athlete programmes I guess it remains relevant to RAFAC.

One of my daughters school friends was a competition cyclist from an early age and is now a PTI on the elite programme with the RAF.

I remember having Chris Akabusi as a motivational speaker many years ago and he was on a similar scheme with the Army. Was really funny as a colleague at the time was his former Sgt.


And it’s not centrally funded.

It’s an interesting point, it’s not like we really do anything to develop our sporty cadets, those who make it to Region/Corps are already playing those sports to that standard, all we do is put them on a coach and take them to an extra competition.

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Which i would class then as Adventure Training (think they come under those regs in the ATC), & there is certainly a place for them with the organisation. Interestingly sports within RAFAC seems a purely ATC thing - I’ve never heard of CCFs having any inter unit or inter area sports competition.

I think it the sports above Sqn level the athletics, swimming, football the hockey where I believe society has moved on & dont fall into the modern ways of working. & becoming a bit of a skeuomorph - emulating something from a previous time that no longer serves that original purpose but we continue with at it is what we are familiar with.

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Then why do it a wing level - we can just save the money and redirect it to delivering other cadet opportunities such as reduced cost for wing camps, better availability of badges & greater training equipment.

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Even though sports may seem like it’s not needed, it is still of use. As there’s alot of cadets who are above average, yet aren’t good enough for the official competitions.

So the cadets gives them the ability to compete and show their skills of against other cadets without having to jump through the hoops of official competitions.

I would remove sports from the rafac syllabus.
Sqns could still do sports etc. But gone are the days of trying to field sqn or even wing teams for events.
Overly adminy events for something not exactly unique or special. If kids want to play rugby or football, join a team.


This 1000 times


Yes! This. So much this. The amount of time it takes to sort out athletics/swimming/6-a-side etc is just rediculous.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if this was true…


Back when I was in the ATC Wing Athletics, Cross-Country and Swimming were all ‘compulsory’.

If you didn’t attend you can expect to not be able to go on camps and other fun stuff.

Can understand in some ways eg. Represent your Squadron but when you can barely swim (eg. Me) and being essentially forced to swim 100m it’s not ideal looking back in hindsight. I certainly wouldn’t be happy if I were a parent of a cadet.

I nearly had to be pulled out by the lifeguards :joy:

A lot of squadrons still treat it that way, in my experience, and it is indeed miserable.


The whole thing about, if you wanna play sports go join a club. Can be said about most things the ATC does. Like, if you wanna play music go join a band, or you wanna do radios, go join a HAM radio club. The ATC is supposed to cater for everyone, and I’m sure things like camps which everyone agrees are great are equally if not harder on the admin than a football or athletics torement for the day.


I encourage my Cdts to give the inter-sqn athletics and cross-country a go but keep the sports that do need an ability to those who want to/can do, swimming & rugby for example. I think sports has a place but the actual sports may need an overhaul, for example Cdts at one Sqn I’ve run had no idea about hockey, netball or rugby as the schools had scrapped those sports in favour of basketball and volleyball.
I’ve seen the most resistant of Cdts come home with a medal from athletics as very few entered the event and she gave it a go, despite saying she’s hopeless at sports, she never wins anything, the encouragement of her team mates and wanting to be part of a full Sqn team meant she gave it a go, and her effort saw the Sqn come top too!


That’s a fair comment & you are correct in saying that if we apply the feasibility test to sports then we must apply that to all our other activities.

However in all the other activities the ATC provided an entry level, low cost taster for those topics & the training syllabus eventually merged into that wider national governing body.

Shooting is a highly restricted sport but young people can experience it for minimal cost lawfully and develop to the high levels both inside & outside of cadets. You also have the use of section 5 firearms which you cannot do outside so it a unique activity. The number of rifle clubs are decreasing & it’s getting more expensive.

Flying is our unique selling point, as it’s expensive to do privately- although you could say if you want to go flying join the sea cadets :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:.

Radio is similar and probably closest to the point you are making and the best example of what you are trying to put across. Again the cadets provide that initial interest for low cost & then that develops into the ham radio world around silver level.

The classic example in the air cadets is if you want to do fieldcraft then join the army cadets (which I think we have a whole separate topic on but thematically fits your point). The ATC provides basic knowledge & entry level experience. albeit not to the same extent as the ACF).

However in each of these cases the ATC provides a taster & an entry level to the activity that the cadet can decide to develop & continue after they left the cadets.

However, with how sports is currently delivered & especially above Sqn level it does not. When the ATC was started athletics was not common in state schools and was still amateur until the 1980s. The ATC also did not have the range of activities that it does now.

Now it is common in the majority of schools & professionals athletics is common with early age training.

The ATC has not changed the way it delivers athletics so it no longer provides that entry point or interest generating opportunity that it once did. The same can be said for most of the sports we do outside of Sqns.

I think sports still has a place, but it needs changing & adapting. It probably doesn’t warrant a WSO post anymore or at least one that is not supernumary to Sqn.

This is the one bit I disagree with (slightly) as that’s not the nature of the organisation as it is primarily the RAF & military style activities. We can accept everyone & try to accommodate all but in the end we do some things & not others because it dilutes & distracts from our main activities.

For example we don’t do a caterers/stewarding proficiency that you can do in the SCC which I think a lot of ATC cadets would be interested in.

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Essentially, the ATC is for kids who want to do the activities but with an RAF theme, and for cheap. As some activities can’t be done outside cadets, like fieldcraft would be difficult to do on your own, and you couldn’t get the uniform as easy.

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Pretty much yes exactly that - we use the structures, themes & allegory of the RAF to help develop young people.

It’s just whether sports at wing level & above remains relevant to this in the modern day. I do not believe it does & it can actually get in The way of delivering other activities.