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 www.sportmakers.co.uk