31 March 2011

Lottery boost to get more East of England students playing sport

Football at Essex

Essex students are amongst those in the East of England who will benefit from more opportunities to play sport, thanks to a £55,876 National Lottery award from Sport England.

Along with 40 other projects, Sports Participation and Coach Education (SPACE) is being backed by Sport England’s £10 million Active Universities fund to get more university students playing sport, as part of the mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

SPACE is a joint project between four insitutions - University of Essex, University Campus Suffolk, Writtle College and Anglia Ruskin University. Sports co-ordinators will be employed to improve sporting opportunities by running freshers’ tournaments in 11 sports, with a particular focus on rugby league, rounders and dodgeball.

Students will also have the opportunity to train as coaches. This will allow them to run sports as volunteers or run paid-for sessions with the local community, bringing in revenue to sustain the project.

University of Essex Sport Development Officer, Laura Eddie, said: “We are delighted to have the support of Sport England to launch the SPACE project. This will give students across the region an exciting opportunity to try new activities and develop their skills both on and off the pitch, helping to improve their employability. We have no doubt that an increase in active students will have a positive impact on the university and local community.”

The Active Universities projects will give tens of thousands of students across the country the chance to try out a new sport, or get back into one they’ve tried before.
Boosting student participation will have a lasting impact on grassroots sport because research shows that students who do play sport at university are far more likely to continue participating throughout their lives. It will also help tackle the issue of drop-off in sports participation that sees many young people giving up sport in their late teens and early twenties.

Sport England’s Chief Executive, Jennie Price, said: “Young adults who are still playing sport when they leave university are likely to stick with it for life, so this is a good investment in the future. These projects have been chosen because they really listened to what students wanted, so we are confident they will succeed in increasing participation.”

Today’s announcement was welcomed by the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP and Olympic Gold medalist, Amy Williams.

Hugh Robertson said: “This funding for 41 different sport projects across the country is exactly what our Olympic legacy promise is about – offering more opportunities for people to get involved. This will boost university sport and encourage students to continue playing once their studies are over.”

Amy Williams, who won Olympic Gold in the skeleton at the 2010 Games, only took up her sport while at the University of Bath, having been a 400m runner at school. She said: “Going to university is a great chance to try out something new and in my case that something new was the skeleton. Sport is an amazing way to make friends, get fit, have fun and pick up skills that could help you get a job when your student days are over.”

Recognising the strong tradition of competitive sport within universities, Active Universities projects will meet the need for more informal and social sporting opportunities. The projects were chosen through a competitive process.
Chair of British Universities and Colleges Sport, Ed Smith, said: “This represents a great outcome for Higher Education and a fabulous opportunity to increase the depth and breadth of participation by young people whilst they benefit from academic studies and the overall student experience at university. The link between sport and life skills is evident from the way employers seek out people who are active in sport and this will be a boost as graduates make their way into the job market.”

Notes to Editors
Sport England is focused on the delivery of a mass participation legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We invest National Lottery and Exchequer funding in organisations and projects that will grow and sustain participation in grassroots sport and create opportunities for people to excel at their chosen sport.
For more information about University of Essex SPACE, please contact Laura Eddie on 012 0687 3392.
For more information about Active Universities or Sport England, please contact the press office: Peter Dickinson on 020 7273 1800.
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national organisation for higher education sport.

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