British government authorities and the City of London have pledged new funding to raise sports participation in the country as it gets ready organize the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Hopefully, this will help to stop the negative slide in sporting goods sales highlighted by NDP Group’s figures on page 3 of this issue.
Sport England, the British governing body, is giving a presentation of the benefits of its program to sporting goods suppliers at a meeting sponsored by the U.K.’s Federation of Sports and Play Associations at the Warwickshire Golf & Country Club next May 21.
The organization recently outlined the way in which it planned to allocate a budget of £480 million (€533m-$725) to community sports groups, starting last month. Among others, £3 million (€3.33m-$4.4m) would be distributed through Sportsmatch, which matches private-sector investments in community clubs. And a new Innovation Fund of £5 million (€5.54m-$7.35m) would go toward projects that identify and pilot new ways of promoting and supporting sports from the grass roots.
Another £10 million (€11.1m-$14.7m) would be allocated to programs that aim to improve or sustain community sports facilities. Sport England has already announced the distributions of these funds to 46 national governing bodies of sport, with large amounts going toward athletics and cycling.
For its part, the City of London has pledged to invest a fund of £15.5 million (€4.2m-$5.7m) in sport in London, to be matched by sponsors and by Sport England. After staging the Olympics, city authorities will also provide mobile swimming pools, street athletics and sports training for disabled children.
As part of a 2012 Olympic legacy plans, the U.K. has also started a £3.8 million (€17.2m-$23.4m) program with the Premier League to get youth more active in sports. The “Premier League 4 Sport” scheme will link the 20 teams with community sports clubs to offer badminton, judo, table tennis and volleyball for children 11 to 16. The legacy plan involves getting youth involved in sport five hours per week by 2012, when London hosts the Olympics. The Premier League is joining with the sports’ governing bodies, the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England in the venture, with a goal of getting 25,000 youth to join sports clubs over the next three years.
The City of London says that half of London’s population is inactive and that more than one-fifth of them are obese. On the other hand, Active England, a program funded and run by Sport England and the country’s national lottery, has helped many people become more active. Among the hard-to-reach groups who started participating in sport were 578,000 women and girls; 217,000 people from ethnic minorities; 173,000 people who hadn’t been active for at least 12 months; and 665,000 people from economically disadvantaged communities. The program cost £95 million (€101.2m-$137.5m).