£6m for after-school Olympic sport clubs

Teenagers will get the chance to try out Olympic and Paralympic sports through a £6 million network of after-school clubs, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw announced today.

From this autumn term sports such as badminton, boccia, fencing, handball, table tennis, volleyball and wheelchair basketball will be on offer at the first of 3,000 clubs being set up in secondary schools and colleges across England.

All of the clubs, funded by Government and Lottery money, should be up and running by spring 2011 as part of the participation drive ahead of the London 2012 Games.

New equipment and qualified coaches to run the clubs alongside young volunteers are also to be paid for from the £6 million pot.

Mr Bradshaw said: "These new clubs will be a fantastic opportunity for teenagers to get active and experience a number of our Olympic and Paralympic sports.

"We hope this will be just the start and that schools across England build on this investment and deliver a network of clubs covering every Olympic sport, long after London's closing ceremony.

"The 2012 games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform sport in this country - both in terms of medals and in getting more people playing sport."

Five-time Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave hopes it might trigger a passion for sport in thousands of youngsters.

He said: "One of the most important outcomes from the UK hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 is that we become a more active nation.

"Of course that means ensuring those who are already participating in sport keep it up for life, but we also need to reach out to those who think sport is not for them."

Setting up the clubs is intended to be a joint effort between the schools, the sports' national governing bodies, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust.

The clubs are part of the Government's Change 4 Life campaign, encouraging young people to become more active.

The Government has pledged to give every young person the chance to do five hours of sport a week.

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell said: "When we won the (Olympic) bid in Singapore we promised to change the lives of young people through sport. These new clubs are just one way in which we are making that promise a reality.

"The sharpest drop in sports participation tends to come when people leave school, so by targeting these clubs at 13 to 19-year-olds we can help bridge that gap."

Sport England chief executive Jennie Price said: "Getting involved in sport when the school day is over is an important step towards continuing participation into adulthood.

"These clubs will give thousands of teenagers the chance to take up sports they may never have played before, helping more young people to discover that sport really offers something for everyone."

Health Secretary Andy Burnham added that the 2012 Games is a golden opportunity to get more people physically active.

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