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With the Olympic Games just over a year away, London Mayor, Boris Johnson has already begun ensuring a sports legacy is created in the capital with heavy investment into grass roots sports. Here, the Mayor's Commissioner for Sport and former Minister for Sport, Kate Hoey, discusses grass roots sport with Editor, Scott Buckler.


Kate, could you tell us more about the funding announced by the Mayor of London into grass roots sports?

When Boris became Mayor there was no sports unit in place, obviously there was a lot going on in regards 2012 and hosting the Olympics, but nothing was focused on grass roots sports within the capital. When he asked me to become the commissioner for sport he wanted to link together the creation of a sports legacy through grass roots sport. Boris thought very hard to get £15 and a half million pounds ring-fenced with matched funding to be spent on sport at the grass roots. From here we set up a community sports board across London made up of the community ,volunteering sector and London Councils. The Community Sports Board then divided the money for use in key areas. Firstly, we addressed the improvement and development of local sports facilities and estates across the community which were in need of repair. Our second focus area was to increase participation in sport, pre and post Olympics. The third area we looked at was skills and support, developing coaches and trainers.
Last week’s announcement of £12 million was to focus on facility development and sports projects . We believe the main focus is to get those not currently playing sport into activities which will help build their confidence and encourage the development of life skills they may not already have.

Touch Rugby has been successful, what other sports are under development?

We were pleasantly surprised with Touch Rugby, we aimed it at men and women working within the capital and there was a good uptake in numbers. We have also started developing BMX tracks with one in every Olympic Borough and then another six across the capital. We have brought wheelchair basketball to London in a well organised way working with the Wheelchair Basketball Governing Body because London has not got as many clubs involved within such a developing, and a Paralympic , sport ,which may come as a surprise.

How important is a sporting legacy?

It is a very important factor, Lord Coe made a lot of promises in Singapore, however once we had won the Games there was nobody concentrating on how this legacy would be created. Legacy means different things to different people, legacy on the Olympics is one area, however there is also meant to be a legacy throughout the country, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I have been tasked with London’s legacy and I am determined to make sure this is a success. It does not matter how well we do in terms of British Medals in 2012 or how well it is all organised, which I am in no doubt it will be, people will still reflect on what remains and if there is nothing in place then we must ask- what have we achieved in hosting such a significant sporting event as the Olympics?

How essential is the role of a volunteer?

I am very conscious, as a former Sports Minister, that without volunteers grass roots sport would collapse. Volunteers are the people who run the clubs, organise training sessions, transport players to games and manage the responsibilities because they love their sport. What we are trying to do through our funding is to support the volunteers and try remove some of the fundraising efforts which can become time consuming and reduce their time on developing and fulfilling their roles within their sport.

Is London setting a benchmark for other cities and towns to replicate the development into grass roots sport?

I would say benchmarking is difficult, remember London has 33 boroughs so it is very hard for other cities and towns to replicate our development. Each London Borough is trying to get best value for money and there are a lot of sports vying for funding. I believe London has put great emphasis on the partnership model to develop grass roots sports. This model sees funding coming in from a private sponsor as well as authorities which then can propel a sport across the capital and encourage further participation. I hope that through our investment and funding we can ensure London is not only remembered for a great Olympics, but for also creating a lasting sports legacy which the people of London can be proud of.

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Written by Kate Hoey   
Thursday, 21 July 2011 12:45
Last Updated on Friday, 22 July 2011 10:09

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