SPORT ENGLAND’S CHAIR RICHARD LEWIS LOOKS BACK ON AN INSPIRING FIRST 10 DAYS OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Published on: 8th August 2012
The Olympic Games are here and as magical performance follows magical performance, the benefits of the decision to use the inspiration of a home Games to motivate more people to make sport part of their lives are already being felt.
In fact, the dividend for grassroots sport began before the Games as the number of people playing sport every week went over 15 million for the first time – an increase driven by a stronger focus on giving consumers what they want from sport, backed by significant investment. And now the intense spotlight on the magnificent members of Team GB is encouraging even more people to get involved.
Rowing, for example, is reporting a massive upsurge in enquiries to its grassroots Explore Rowing programme following the success of the women and men on the water at Eton Dorney.
As our hockey teams perform heroics in the Olympic Park, the Hockey Nation campaign is bringing taster sessions to clubs and facilities across the country – including in the Olympic Park itself where 15,000 people have picked up a stick again in just 10 days.
In cycling, for whom Bradley Wiggins began the gold rush, more than 1,000 people have signed up as members of British Cycling in just two weeks.
Around the Weymouth sailing venue where Ben Ainslie became the greatest Olympic sailor in history, over 40,000 people have taken advantage of a Sport Arena offering sports from rugby union to volleyball and sailing to table tennis. Crucially every one of them will be contacted when they get home with support on staying involved in sport.
For those inspired by Jess Ennis or Mo Farah, more than 600 athletics clubs are holding community athletics legacy days in the weeks between the Olympic and Paralympic Games. England Volleyball has reported an 850% increase in traffic to its website as it promotes its Go Spike grassroots initiative.
All of the sports we fund have plans in place to keep hold of these new participants by giving them a good experience.
Alongside the work of the individual sports, our Places People Play legacy programme is bringing legacy benefits to every corner of England. Already, over 850 sports clubs, facilities and playing fields have benefitted from £70 million of this National Lottery investment. All will carry the London 2012 Inspire mark – celebrating the link to the Games.
As we help a new generation to discover the right sport for them, we are also investing in the programmes to spot and then nurture those with the talent to emulate the likes of Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray.
Around a quarter of Sport England’s investment since we won the bid in 2005 has gone into supporting talented young athletes. As well as supporting talent identification and coaching, we have invested in over 50 high performance centres around the country, including EIS Sheffield where Jess Ennis trains. Our national centre at Lilleshall has received £16 million of investment, helping elite athletes based there such as Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle prepare for their medal-winning performances.
Jason Kenny, who sprung to prominence in Beijing, won his second gold of London 2012 yesterday. His rise has been stellar, but he started out on British Cycling’s grassroots programme Go Ride which links clubs with schools.
We believe that continuing to strengthen the ties between community sports clubs and schools is critical both to finding future Olympians and helping more young people develop a sporting habit for life. Under our strategy every English secondary school will be offered a community sport club on its site with a direct link to one or more sports. Having a community club within the school and linked to local sports clubs makes it easier for young people to choose to get involved in sport beyond the school curriculum and then make the move into their local club.
We’re determined to harness the excitement of the Games to continue this growth and the early signs are good. There's a long way to go on the legacy journey and everyone in sport now needs to work harder than ever to keep the momentum going. But we’re on the right road.