Make the most of legacy funding

NORTHUMBERLAND can benefit from sports funding designed to create an Olympics legacy.

Schools, clubs, local authorities and organisations will have the opportunity to get involved with Sport England’s five-year strategy, which is targeting year-on-year growth in adult participation and improved facilities across the country.

Key to its grassroots investment package is a £40million Community Sport Activation Fund where groups and bodies can bid for matched funding to sustain and increase once-a-week participation in sport.

There will be support for school games events and all high schools that wish to do so will receive help to open up, or keep open, their sports facilities for members of the public. County sports partnerships will be given new resources to create stronger links between schools and sport in the community.

Judith Rasmussen, Sport England’s strategic lead for the North East and Yorkshire, spoke about the programme at a Northumberland County Council scrutiny committee meeting.

“Under our strategy, there is more opportunity for organisations and local authorities to get access funding to deliver projects at a local level,” she said.

“One of our main targets is to raise the percentage of 14 to 25-year-olds playing sport at least once-a-week, which will increase the chances of them doing a particular activity for life. We’re also aiming to get more people who are doing nothing at the moment back into sport.

“When it comes to sports facilities we will be looking to protect as many playing fields as possible.

“Local authorities will also need to consider whether it would be better value to refurbish their leisure centres that are many years old or try and build new ones.”

Other investment includes £25million to create a national network of College Sports Makers, who will organise and run sport for further education students and help national governing bodies reach into the sector to get more students playing sport.

It will also work with a range of partners including StreetGames and the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust to support young people from disadvantaged areas, including the setting up of more Door Step Clubs.

The county council’s executive member for leisure, Coun Neil Bradbury, said: “We have a great relationship with Sport England and we are well above average in terms of population share in the amount of funding we receive from the organisation.

“There are a lot of groups and clubs in the county which are passionate about delivering sport in their area and now as a result of trying to create an Olympics legacy, more money is available for them to improve their provision.

“We’ll also be looking to take forward some projects if we can, because strategic investment now saves us having to spend massive amounts on unsustainable repairs and refurbishments in the future.”

The programme also involves creating more opportunities for young people to develop their sporting skills and increasing participation among people with disabilities, including those with talent.

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