EAST MIDLANDS: Funding boosts sports opportunities

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.

HUNDREDS of further education students in the East Midlands can look forward to better opportunities to get involved in sport thanks to £131,588 of National Lottery investment from Sport England.

The funding will be invested into five further education colleges, benefitting more than 1,200 college students in the region.

Responding to what students said interested them, the colleges will run a range of initiatives including women-only activities and flexible drop-in sessions in sports from archery and futsal to canoeing and netball.

Further education college students play the least sport of young people aged 16 and over who are in education. Sport England’s Active People Survey shows that around 65 per cent of school pupils aged 16 and over do sport at least once a week, compared to 53 per cent of higher education students and 50 per cent of college students.

The announcement was welcomed by the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson. He said: “We want young people to continue to participate in sport when they leave school and to keep it up for life. This funding will help us do that by strengthening sports provision at further education colleges across the country.”

Mike Diaper, Director of Community Sport at Sport England, said: “This funding is another big boost for college sport, giving many more students the chance to take advantage of more sporting opportunities. We need to make sure that doing sport is a convenient choice for young people as they move not only from school to college but also from college to further study, university or employment.”

One project to benefit is Lincoln College. Having consulted students on what would make them play more sport, the college is revamping its sporting activity through the development of an Athletics Union, which will train and empower students as sports leaders.

The Athletics Union will help tackle the barriers stopping students in taking part, including a lack of facilities and the rural location of some of the college’s campuses. To overcome this newly trained sports leaders will source and make available space outside of the sports hall, which can be used for activities and organise sporting activity prior to 5pm when most students have to get buses.

Martin Booth, Director of Sport, Care and Arts at Lincoln College, said: “The College aims to act as a facilitator, supporting and training students to ultimately manage the delivery of activities themselves, much like would occur at a university Athletic Union. This will allow for long-term sustainability of the project beyond the initially funded period.

“Our business is to prepare students for work and further study by providing them with a series of choices and helping them to make the right decision. Sport is an excellent means of developing and demonstrating the attributes necessary for progression and we see this project as an important part of that journey.”

The investment from the Further Education Activation Fund will also enable a number of colleges to work together more closely, sharing facilities and expertise. It will also support the work of the 153 College Sport Makers recruited through £17 million of Lottery investment from Sport England, announced earlier this year.

Clare Howard, Head of Sport Policy at The Association of Colleges, said: “The first round of Sport England FE Activation Funding will give a huge boost to colleges, supporting the delivery of projects that increase regular sport participation and reducing the numbers of young people dropping out of sport. Colleges will use the fund to develop the range and frequency of sporting provision, improve the quality of sport and, in many cases, try something different. The Activation Fund awards will enhance the great work already taking place in further education and continue the development of sport and physical activity in colleges, helping to improve higher education and sustainable employment opportunities for 900,000 young people.”

More colleges will be able to benefit from the Further Education Activation Fund with an additional £6 million available through the second round of funding, which opens in December 2013.

The investment is part of Sport England’s five-year £1 billion Youth and Community Strategy which is helping more people than ever to get involved in sport. There are 15.5 million people playing sport every week, an increase of 1.57 million since 2005/06.