Tens of thousands of young women and men at college can look forward to improved sporting opportunities thanks to new National Lottery funding from Sport England.
£17 million of investment will fund 150 new jobs for full-time sports professionals to act as College Sport Makers over the next five years, helping students to get involved in sport.
Colleges across the country were today given the go-ahead to recruit the first 117 sports professionals after successfully bidding for support from Sport England.
Further education (college) students play the least sport of young people aged 16 and over who are in education. Research shows that around 65% of school pupils aged 16 and over do sport at least once a week, compared to 53% of higher education students and 50% of college students.
Participation is lower among young women than men at college so the new workers will have a specific remit to ensure the sporting opportunities are attractive to young women and are marketed effectively to them.
The announcement was welcomed by Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who said: “Following the success and enthusiasm generated by the summer, I am determined to keep up the momentum of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and get more people playing sport. Raising participation levels among young people is absolutely crucial. This £20 million investment from the National Lottery will help do exactly that, getting more students in colleges up and down the country involved in sport. It will also create 150 new jobs, and these 'College Sport Makers' will make a real difference in helping young people develop a sporting habit for life."
Richard Lewis, Chair of Sport England, said: “Too many teenagers drop out of sport when they leave school, as it gets squeezed by competing demands like studying, work and relationships. We want College Sport Makers to remind young people how much fun sport is and to help them build it into their schedules so they develop a sporting habit for life.”
College Sport Makers will help individual sports to market their opportunities to students as well as linking colleges with community sports clubs, running leagues and sports groups and offering coaching for certain sports. Every College Sport Maker will be expected to help hundreds of students to make sport a bigger part of their lives.
One of the roles will be at Exeter College, whose Head of Faculty for Sport, Leisure & Tourism, Peter Chapman, said: “This is fantastic news for the students of Exeter College. The investment will enable us to make a huge difference in what we are able to provide for all of our learners, a much wider and increased choice of sports positively contributing to the aim of increasing the levels of physical activity within our college population.”
Sport England also today invited colleges across the country to bid for a share of £3 million of additional funding to improve the sport they’re able to offer. Grants of between £30,000 and £150,000 will be offered to help colleges to run new sport projects. This money could pay for equipment to introduce new sports at a college, the cost of running new leagues, facility hire for students from colleges that don’t have facilities or transport to get students to sessions.
The Association of Colleges’ Head of Sport Policy, Clare Howard, said: “There has always been a strong tradition of sport in colleges but this new funding brings much needed extra capacity. This will allow us to really build on the momentum created by London 2012 and provide new, and different sporting opportunities for a greater number of college students.
“We are delighted about the funding from Sport England to create new sports development posts in colleges and hopefully inspire a new generation of athletes.”
The investment is part of Sport England’s five-year £1 billion Youth and Community Strategy that aims to continue the growth in sports participation that has seen the number of people playing sport every week reach 15.28 million, an increase of 1.3 million since 2005/6.