Huge Christmas legacy boost for hundreds of local sports clubs

350 local community sports groups are celebrating today after being offered a total of £17.4 million in Olympic legacy funding from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund.

Oxford Boxing Academy is one of 350 facilities to receive Olympic legacy funding

The fund is part of the £135 million Places People Play National Lottery-funded legacy programme that is bringing the magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities across England. All 350 facilities will carry the London 2012 Inspire mark – celebrating the link to the Games.

“We’ve had unprecedented demand for this fund, which has really hit the mark with sports clubs. It shows we’re offering the sporting legacy that people want.”

The investments announced today will breathe new life into tired facilities that can be unattractive to sports participants, difficult to maintain and run. Grants have also been offered to convert existing buildings into venues that are suitable for grassroots sport and to allow local clubs to buy the facilities they use.

The investments include:

  • £46,000 to buy a new permanent home for a boxing club in Oxford that was at risk of being closed down
  • £28,000 to resurface two tennis courts at Windermere Lawn Tennis club, where tree roots had made the existing courts unsafe
  • £50,000 to replace the roof at Worcester Citizens’ Swimming Pool which currently has a number of serious leaks that were threatening its future
  • £50,000 to upgrade a 35-year-old clubhouse at Great Eccleston cricket club in Preston, including disabled access with changing and toilet facilities.

Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, said: “We want to use the Olympic and Paralympics next summer to inspire a generation to get involved in sport across the country. This is why as part of the £135 million Places People Play legacy programme we invited community sports clubs to apply for funding to upgrade their facilities.”

Inspired Facilities has been designed to be as simple and accessible as possible for potential applicants, with a shorter form and a catalogue of ready-made options to choose from. This is the first of five funding rounds of Inspired Facilities; the second round opens on 1 February 2012, offering hundreds more local groups the chance to bid for a further £10 million of funding.

Places People Play is being delivered by Sport England. We are working in partnership with the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the British Paralympic Association (BPA) with the backing of The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the London 2012 Inspire mark.

LOCOG Chair, Seb Coe, said: “This is a fantastic funding project that will deliver a real legacy from the London 2012 Games. It will provide a whole range of sporting opportunities for young people through improved facilities and will I hope inspire them to take up sport.”

Today’s announcement was welcomed by the Local Government Association. Cllr Chris White, Chair of its Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “In spite of budget pressures, councils are striving to keep supporting local sports clubs and want to work with them in creating a lasting and meaningful Olympic and Paralympic legacy. This much-needed funding will hopefully act as a catalyst to further strengthen local partnerships between councils and sports clubs and get more people playing sport.

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Sir Steve Redgrave sees Sport Makers in action

Five-time Olympic Gold medallist, Sir Steve Redgrave has seen first hand how a new batch of sporting heroes are helping get more people active.

Making a special visit to Middlesex University and Brunel University, Sir Steve met some of the country’s first official Sport Makers – a growing band of people who are making sport happen in their local community as part of the Olympic and Paralympic legacy.

Sir Steve, our greatest Olympian, joined forces with Sport England in October to launch Sport Makers, a programme for everyone who wants to get their friends, neighbours or colleagues out there enjoying sport.

“I’ve been really impressed with the early stages of the project and really encouraged by the number of people who have already signed up to Sport Makers”, said Sir Steve Redgrave.  “It goes to show you don’t need medals to become a sporting hero.  The people I’ve met have shown that by helping people you know to get involved in sport you can do something amazing for them as well as having fun at the same time.”

Sport Makers is aiming to inspire 40,000 people to get involved, with each of them spending at least 10 hours organising and leading sporting activities.

During the visits, Sir Steve saw Sport Maker led sessions and talked to Sport Makers, including Adam Stapleton, who has already completed his ten hours of organising and leading sporting activities.

Adam, a Tottenham local who found out about Sport Makers through the work he did with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, said: “I was born in Tottenham and have always lived there. I also work in the community so it is great to give back and share my love of sport with other people in the area.

“I run football coaching sessions for 16- to 19-year-olds.  I’ve got my friends and family to play sport more. It’s really good to think that I might be helping other people play sport and introducing people to something they might not have tried before.

“I’m definitely going to keep being a Sport Maker. In the spring I want to expand my football coaching as then we’ll be able to go to the park and play outside so there will be more room for people to join in.

“With the Olympics coming to my area lots of people will be talking about sport and hopefully going and playing more.”

Sir Steve also met Sajeda Kazemi, an 18-year-old Middlesex University student who has formed links between the University’s Dance and Islamic societies to run women only sports sessions.

“I’ve been playing sport since primary school and it has really helped make me more confident and I want other people to discover that sport can help them too”, Sajeda said. “I’ve found that a lot of ladies stop playing sport after primary school so I am trying to get more girls, especially Muslim girls, involved in sport. I am working with the University’s Dance and Islamic societies to create women-only sessions and I’m encouraging girls to try coming along. By coming to the classes they can have fun, get fit, meet new people and gain some confidence. We’re a multi-cultural country so sport should be multi-cultural too.”

While at Middlesex University, where staff and students have been delivering sports sessions in and around the campus, Sir Steve saw RUSH hockey, Rounders, Muay Thai, Football and Real Tennis sessions.  He even showed his sporting prowess by scoring a rounder and taking part in a game of Real Tennis. 

At Brunel, who hosted one of the pilot conventions in October, he spoke to four Sport Maker jogging activators about their work before firing the starters’ gun to get their evening jogging groups underway.

Sir Steve then sat down with a group of Sport Maker Makers who’ve been working hard to help promote and recruit other students and Hillingdon residents to the programme.
Backed by the British Olympic Association and £4 million of National Lottery funding, Sport Makers is part of the Places People Play legacy programme that is bringing the magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities across the country.
In the weeks since the launch, over 2, 500 people have already attended Sport Maker events and are starting to do their 10 hours of local sports volunteering – and around  6,000 people have signed up to take part at

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Sports clubs’ relief from Appeal Court decision

Amateur sports clubs throughout the country, especially those sharing pitches, should be sleeping easier at night thanks to a recent Court of Appeal decision.

Clubs had been facing an onerous and costly pre-match pitch inspection regime arising out of an injury sustained by a teenage rugby player.

Jack Sutton was injured during a training session at Syston Rugby Football Club when he attempted to score a try in the touchdown area and struck part of a cricket boundary marker which had broken off below grass level.

Mr Sutton alleged that a detailed inspection of the pitch should have taken place and had it been carried out the marker would have been located and his injury prevented.

The Club accepted they owed Mr Sutton a duty of care under section 2(2) of the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 (OLA 57), which states that an occupier should take reasonable care to see that visitors will be reasonably safe.

They also admitted that there should have been a general inspection of the pitch before use. However, they disputed that such an inspection would have noted such a small object as a broken-off cricket marker.

At first instance the Judge found in favour of Mr Sutton awarding damages of £54,000 and concluded that the pitch should have been walked over at a “reasonable walking pace.” Crucially, he also found that the touchdown area should have been inspected with a “slightly more careful degree of attention.”

The club appealed against the ruling and in Sutton v Syston Rugby Football Club Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 1182 (CA (Civ Div)) the Court of Appeal judge, Lord Justice Longmore, arrived at a different conclusion.

He agreed that the whole pitch should be inspected “at a reasonable walking pace” and that the thorough inspection should be carried out by a coach / match organiser (or someone on their behalf) before the match/session starts.

But he disagreed that more attention needed to be given to the touchdown areas, considering it, “unnecessarily complicated to require different standards of care for different parts of the pitch.”

This judgment is positive news not just for rugby clubs but for all amateur sports clubs. It is a common sense judgment which makes clear the level of pre-session/match inspections that are to be expected and must be carried out.

In this modern day with more and more multi-purpose pitches it should come as a relief that sports clubs have some protection from unusual and hidden objects that are simply not practicable to locate.

Dr Julian Morris, Sports and Personal Injury Law Partner, Plexus Law

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Be the first to run 100m in the Olympic stadium with Gold Challenge

Members of the public will get the chance of a lifetime to be the first to run in the Olympic Stadium through Gold Challenge, part of Sport England’s mass participation legacy programme, Places People Play

On 1 April 2012, Gold Challenge participants will have the chance to run the 100m or the 4 x 100m in the Olympic Stadium watched by friends, family and a cheering crowd of 20,000. They will be among the first people in the world to run on the track that will see the stars of Team GB and Paralympics GB compete against the world’s best at next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Gold Challenge is an independent initiative that aims to motivate over 100,000 people to test themselves in multiple Olympic and Paralympic sports, and in doing so raise millions of pounds to charity.  

“We’re proud to be working with Gold Challenge to motivate people to get involved in sport,” saidRichard Lewis, Sport England’s Chair. “The chance to run in the Olympic Stadium will be both a powerful incentive to take up a challenge and a great reward for everyone who has raised money for charity through Gold Challenge.” 

Supported by Team GB, the Gold Challenge event will be a unique thank you to people who have been inspired by London 2012 to get active and raise money for one of Gold Challenge’s 150 charity partners. It will also mark an important step for the Olympic Stadium as the event will test crucial aspects of the venue and operations ahead of next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.   

 “I’m pleased that Gold Challenge has been selected as a test event ahead of London 2012, said Hugh Robertson MP, Minister for Sport and the Olympics. “What greater incentive for people to get involved than an opportunity to run on the track in the iconic Olympic Stadium for charity.”

The event will also include the Gold Challenge Parade, with several thousand children and adults walking the official Opening Ceremony route. 

“I am thrilled that Gold Challenge is hosting this important event in the lead up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Dan Thompson, Gold Challenge Executive Chairman and Founder.  “What greater inspiration to take up a challenge and raise money for charity than a chance to go to the Olympic Stadium.” 

With thousands of places up for grabs, securing a place is as simple as being fully registered for the Gold Challenge – selecting one of the challenges, a charity and a fundraising target.  The highest fundraisers by 29 February 2011 will be guaranteed a place in the event, while the remaining places will be distributed by ballot and to a number of schools. 

To find out more about the event and how you could secure a place, visit

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Ebony Horse Club Community Riding Centre officially opened

Sport England funded Ebony Horse Club Community Riding Centre, which brings sporting opportunities to young people, was officially opened this week by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

Based in Brixton, the Riding Centre is the first purpose built riding centre in inner London in more than 30 years and includes stabling for eight horses, a paddock, arena, classroom and offices.

Founded in 1996 by Ros Spearing, Ebony Horse Club aims to raise the aspirations of young people in a deprived area, and while they have been bringing the benefits of horse riding to young and troubled people for 15 years, they’ve been limited by not owning their own facility.

“Ebony Horse Club has been limited by not owning its own facilities,” said Ros.  “Fifteen years on and we now have a modern community riding centre that will help us to meet the needs of many more children and young people. I am immensely grateful to all our supporters without whom this new riding centre in the heart of Brixton would not be possible. The riding centre has been in development for eight years and is a testament to the young people, all whom have inspired our work.”

Through the support of Sport England, charitable trusts and the British Equestrian Federation, the Club were able to reach their ambitious fundraising target of £1.7million for the new facility.

“Ebony Horse Club has been improving the lives of young people for many years and through our National Lottery investment of £600,000 they will be able to continue using sport to inspire and help many more young people,” said Charles Johnston, Sport England’s Director of Property. “Not only is the work of Ros and her team an inspiration and example to others, it is also helping ensure we build a lasting legacy beyond next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

During HRH’s visit The Duchess, who is President of the club, watched a display of horsemanship by Ebony’s young riders and also met volunteers, youth workers, patrons and staff.

“The whole family has waited so long to hear this news,” said Karen Reid, a local parent who has three children at the club.  “Ebony has really supported my children especially my son, through some quite difficult times. The children love going to the stables after school and at weekends. It’s great that so many more children from the area will benefit and have access to this support.”

For more information about Ebony Horse Club, visit

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£10 million for iconic sporting facilities

With just under 300 days to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Sport England is making £10million of National Lottery funding available for the next round of Iconic Facilities.

Opening on the 10th October, Iconic Facilities will invest in large-scale, state of the art facilities, catering for many sports that will help increase participation and deliver a sustainable sporting legacy beyond 2012.

Sport England Chair, Richard Lewis, said:

“This funding is making sure that people who are inspired by the Games will have some really great facilities where they can go and play sport. We know that high quality facilities that offer a range of sporting activity can encourage many more people to take part in sport. Without doubt this is a key part of ensuring we deliver a lasting legacy from the Games.”

The National Indoor BMX Centre in Manchester is a recent beneficiary of Iconic Facilities. As a key element of the vision for Sportcity, alongside the Velodrome, the centre will create a complex of high quality cycling facilities. Cllr Jim Battle, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, highlighted the importance of the investment to the local community:

“National Indoor BMX Centre will attract more local young people of all abilities to take part in high quality sporting activity. The funding we received from Sport England has enabled us to extend and expand our cycling offer so we can run different types of cycling activities, more teams, leagues and competitions, helping us to attract more people into the sport.”

Part of the mass participation legacy programme, Places People Play, Iconic Facilities is one of the three Places programmes that are transforming the places people play sport in the cities, towns and villages across England.

The second of three rounds, applicants interested in the fund can apply for grants between £250,000 and £3 million.

Successful applicants will have projects that are regionally significant for at least two sports and demonstrate long-term financial viability.

To find out more and to apply, visit our funding pages.

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48 playing fields protected and improved by 2012 legacy fund

48 sports playing fields across England are to be protected and improved in the first wave of National Lottery investment by Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields legacy fund.

The announcement comes as communities across the country are invited to bring the 2012 legacy to life in their area by bidding for support for a local playing field through the second £2 million round of Protecting Playing Fields.

Applications for the second round can be made between 24 October 2011 and 12 December 2011, with community and voluntary sector groups able to apply without partnership funding. 

More than £2 million of National Lottery funding has been offered to sports clubs and local groups in the first round to bring disused playing fields back into use, improve existing sites or create new sports pitches.  A further £8 million will be awarded to hundreds more projects through the four remaining funding rounds.

“These investments will transform the local pitches where many young people have their first experience of sport,” said Richard Lewis, Sport England’s Chair.  “With all of the playing fields safe from development for at least a generation, communities across England can look forward to years of sporting enjoyment.”

Protecting Playing Fields is part of the Places People Play legacy programme to bring the inspiration and magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities all over the country.

“When we speak about leaving a lasting legacy from hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games it’s about offering people more opportunities and better facilities to play sport, and protecting playing fields is central to this ambition,” said Hugh Robertson MP, Minister for Sport and the Olympics. “Thousands of sportsmen and women will now benefit from Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields legacy fund seeing improvements to existing sites and bringing disused community playing fields back into use.”

Among the funding offers of between £20,000 and £50,000 are:

  • £50,000 to drain and level Tufnell Park Playing Fields in Islington, the London borough with the fewest playing fields. In partnership with Islington Council, which is contributing £85,600, this project will allow the pitches to be used twice as often, benefiting mainly junior and women’s football teams.


  • £50,000 for Cobham Sports Association in Surrey, where work will begin next week to turn a derelict golf driving range into three new multi-sport grass pitches, doubling the playing field provision at the club. That means more football, more lacrosse and more rugby union for local residents. The club is putting in £70,000 to the project.
  • £49,000 for the OSCA Foundation, a charity in a deprived area of Halifax, West Yorkshire, which will take over ownership from the local council of a playing field where 90% of matches currently get cancelled because of water-logging and other issues. Following improvements, including enlarging the pitches, they will be used for rugby league in the summer and football in the winter.

All 48 playing fields will also be protected from developers for at least 25 years[1], creating an enduring benefit for sport. And 27 will become Queen Elizabeth II Fields after agreeing to dedicate their playing field in “perpetuity”. This is thanks to a partnership with Fields in Trust (FIT) which is running the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge as part of the programme to mark the Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.

“This fantastic investment into grassroots facilities in England will help to ensure that neighbourhoods can participate in sporting activities at all levels for years to come,” said Alison Moore-Gwyn, Chief Executive of Fields in Trust. “We are delighted to see that over half of these playing fields will also be protected in perpetuity as part of the permanent legacy that the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge will create in tribute to the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics.”

More than half of the groups benefiting from Protecting Playing Fields are community sports clubs while six are playing field associations, five are parish councils and three are schools or colleges.  The awards also include the purchase of five playing field sites totalling 25 acres and 13 pitches.

By simplifying the application process and reducing the technical expertise required to bid, the funding has been opened up to groups that haven’t previously received public money. Almost half the successful bidders (23) in the first round are first-time applicants.

Protecting Playing Fields builds on the work Sport England already does to safeguard playing fields as a statutory consultee on all planning applications affecting a sports playing field.

To find out more about the Protecting Playing Fields fund or to submit an application for round two, visit /funding


[1] Sport England will support community and voluntary groups and local authorities to protect all funded playing fields by placing a legal protection on the site for a minimum of 25 years.
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