Lottery boost to get more students in Staffordshire playing sport

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Posted on 31 March 2011

Students at Keele University and Staffordshire University are being urged to give sport another go after a project secured £107,313 in National Lottery funding from Sport England.

Along with 40 other projects, Social Sport Participation Project is being backed by Sport England’s £10 million Active Universities fund to get more university students playing sport, as part of the mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The project is being run jointly by the two universities and has set it sights on involving 2,000 students in informal beginner sessions, intramural competitions, festivals and varsity games, across eight sports. Athletics, badminton, tag rugby and basketball are among the sports on offer. Students will also have the chance to become volunteer coaches and gain officiating qualifications.

To help fit in with busy lives, timings will be flexible with sessions in between lectures, either throughout the day or in the evening. There’ll also be a pay-as-you go option, providing an alternative to becoming a member of mainstream sports clubs.

Head of Sport at Keele University, Angela Dale, said: "We are delighted to be working with Staffordshire University to allow students from both universities the opportunity to take part in a wide range of informal sport and intramural programmes. Thank you to Sport England and all partners involved in helping secure this funding. I am confident that this will increase participation in sport across the student population in Staffordshire."

The Active Universities projects will give tens of thousands of students across the country the chance to try out a new sport, or get back into one they’ve tried before.

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.

Sport England’s Chief Executive, Jennie Price, said: "Young adults who are still playing sport when they leave university are likely to stick with it for life, so this is a good investment in the future. These projects have been chosen because they really listened to what students wanted, so we are confident they will succeed in increasing participation."

Today’s announcement was welcomed by the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP and Olympic Gold medallist, Amy Williams.

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

Amy Williams, who won Olympic Gold in the skeleton at the 2010 Games, only took up her sport while at the University of Bath, having been a 400m runner at school. She said: "Going to university is a great chance to try out something new and in my case that something new was the skeleton. 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 will meet the need for more informal and social sporting opportunities. The projects were chosen through a competitive process.

Chair of British Universities and Colleges Sport, Ed Smith, 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."


For more information about Active Universities, please contact the Sport England press office: Peter Dickinson on 020 7273 1800.