Lottery boost for student sport

The Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, and Olympic Gold medalist, Amy Williams, yesterday joined Sport England in Birmingham to announce projects benefitting from investment to get more university students playing sport.

41 initiatives have secured National Lottery funding through Active Universities. They will give tens of thousands of students the chance to try out a new sport, or get back into one they’ve tried before, as part of the mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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.

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

Olympic Gold medalist, Amy Williams, told stakeholders at the event at the University of Birmingham how she only took up the skeleton while at the University of Bath, having been a 400m runner at school.

“Going to university is a great chance to try out something new and in my case that something new was the skeleton”, said Amy. “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 are meeting the need for more informal and social sporting opportunities. Chosen through a competitive process, the investment decisions announced yesterday include:

  • £65,275 for a multi-sport project at the University of Birmingham that’s aiming to increase sports participation at the university by15%. The sessions will include Run in Brum and Swim Buddies and most will be led by student volunteers
  • £300,000 for the English Lacrosse Association to work with 30 universities to create more social and competitive opportunities to play the sport. The project intends to get an extra 6,000 students playing lacrosse
  • £107,313 for a joint project at Staffordshire University and Keele University to get 2,000 students involved in a wide range of sports in a social setting. Hundreds of volunteers will be trained up to make sure the scheme becomes a firm fixture for students of both universities for years to come.

The announcement was welcomed by the Chair of British Universities and Colleges Sport, Ed Smith. He 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.”

Find out more about the individual projects

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