The city council will call on sports clubs to offer more to children from deprived areas as part of a strategy to tackle inequality.
A five-year plan will be launched centred around “Sport for Change” and the council will hold a consultation with clubs and community organisation in November to see what more can be done to offer opportunities to youngsters from families with lower incomes.
Money could be granted to clubs to encourage them to work in deprived areas while sporting facilities could be transferred community organisations as part of the shake-up.
The move comes after controversial plans to increase the cost of hiring school sports halls were put on hold after a public outcry when the council was warned young people from poorer areas were set to lose out.
Robin Yellowlees, the council’s strategic development manager, said: “Child poverty is the biggest challenge we face nationally and in this city. Children that grow up in deprivation in this city do not get the same sporting offer. We need to try and find a way to deal with that.
“One of the ways is by engaging our top sports clubs, and we need to try and get these sports clubs to work in areas of deprivation.”
He added: “If we can get kids in those neighbourhoods to engage with the clubs, we think this is one of the best ways to try and tackle this. We need to give better opportunities to young people in those areas. We would like to see whether we can give grants to sports clubs to take on this challenge.”
The strategy will focus on increasing physical activity and access to affordable facilities across the city.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Hal Osler said: “The biggest issue that we have is chronic underfunding. If we are the 32nd local authority for funding from sportscotland out of 32 and we provide way less than everybody else, it’s not enough.
“We can’t expect our communities to consistently pick up the tab. It needs additional funding and it needs long-term funding.”
Sporting and active hubs could also be established in communities to offer more opportunities.
Cllr Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s culture and communities convener, said: “Already, Edinburgh boasts an abundance of parks and green space offering outdoor facilities, while Edinburgh Leisure provides affordable access to 30 first-class venues including the much-loved Royal Commonwealth Pool.
“But, once built, the brand-new Meadowbank Sports Centre will become a flagship venue for getting fit and getting active. Designed as a place to participate – rather than spectate – it will become a central part of this new strategy by increasing access to great facilities. But there is also work we need to do within schools and local communities to break down barriers to participating in sport but also volunteering and coaching classes.”
He added: “Success in sport should be about investing in people. It should be about helping residents of all abilities,”