Shining a spotlight on community sport

08 February 2013 Volunteering

Olympic and Paralympic medallists are helping Sport England shine a spotlight on the important role community sports clubs play in developing our young sports stars of the future. 

With every medallist from last year’s Games invited to nominate the community club where they discovered their love of sport, Sport England’s 2012 Clubs initiative is providing bespoke advice and support to help them continue their good work within the local community. 

So far 30 clubs have begun their work with Sport England including the clubs that nurtured medallists Dame Sarah Storey, Hannah Cockroft, Greg Rutherford, and the Brownlee brothers.

Debbie Greenwood from Halifax Athletics Club, which helped Hannah Cockroft on her journey to Paralympics glory, said: “2012 Club is helping us build on the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games be offering Calderdale disability sports development team, and the coaches from the Halifax Harriers Athletics Club advice and support. This will further develop participation opportunities and the inclusion of disabled young people in a mainstream sports club.”

While aware of the local funding opportunities available to them, the Club were provided with information about Sport England’s Small Grants programme as well as the wider disability sport development opportunities being offered by West Yorkshire Sport.

The support and advice provided by Sport England includes:

  • Helping the operational and people aspects of clubs through Sport England Core, including personal development for volunteers, improving club management and Clubmark and Clubfinder
  • Investment for sports groups through our Small Grants, Inspired Facilities and Protecting Playing Fields funds
  • Providing free business skills training and support to those doing the day-to-day running of clubs through Club Leaders
  • Connecting clubs with the thousands of people who’ve signed up to help out in grassroots sport through the Sport Makers campaign.

A plaque will also be placed at each club, acting as a permanent reminder of the athletes’ achievements. 

Last week, Dame Sarah Storey visited her own primary school and home of her first swimming club, Disley Primary School, to unveil the plaque and spend time coaching the children.  As our greatest Paralympian ever, Disley Primary School played a vital role in setting her on her way to achieving 11 Paralympic gold medals. 

“It’s fantastic to come back to where my sporting journey began and see how enthusiastic these kids are about sport,” said Sarah. “Sport should be an important part of every child’s life, be that in school, at an after-school club or a community club. Good clubs and coaches are essential, not only in developing elite athletes but in every person’s sporting experience. A good club means a lifelong commitment and enjoyment of sport and it’s great to see clubs being celebrated in this way.”

Sport England is committed to developing sport at the grassroots level and is investing £1billion over the next five years to achieve this. This money will help grow participation and ensuring individuals have the best sporting experience possible.