Sport funding for villages

PUBLISHED: 17:51 17 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:57 16 June 2010

Thousands of Devon villagers can look forward to new opportunities to play sport on their doorstep after an innovative project was awarded £598,952 of National Lottery funding by Sport England.

Thousands of Devon villagers can look forward to new opportunities to play sport on their doorstep after an innovative project was awarded £598,952 of National Lottery funding by Sport England.

Devon Active Villages secured the investment from the £10 million Rural Communities fund, which was launched after Sport England research revealed that two thirds of the local authorities with the lowest sports participation rates are in rural areas.

Devon Active Villages, which was selected from over 500 applications through a competitive national process, will see:

* 156 parishes across Devon with populations of between 500 and 2,000 offered the chance to get involved in sport

* 13,000 people of all ages participating in a variety of sports activities including running, cycling, gym/exercise, rugby union, table tennis, hockey, cricket, and football

* Local communities accessing coaching, mentoring, training and development opportunities to support the delivery of local activity

* Improved support for 60 existing sports coaches and 400 local volunteers to deliver future activities.

The project will be co-ordinated by the county sports partnership, Active Devon, in partnership with Devon County Council and delivered through a wide range of local partners. Neil Roberts, Chief Executive of Active Devon, said:

"We are delighted that Devon will receive this investment from Sport England. It will allow us to offer people of all ages, across rural areas of Devon, the opportunity to experience the fun of sport. The funding will enable us to help local people to enjoy sporting opportunities in the heart of their communities.

"We know that traditionally it can be difficult for people living in rural communities to get access to sporting opportunities. We will now be able to begin to address those barriers. I believe that this programme will reinvigorate people's desire to get into sport and create a lasting sporting legacy in the South West."

The leader of Devon County Council, John Hart, said:

"I am delighted that Active Devon has been successful in its bid for funding against 500 other applicants. Devon County Council has worked closely with Active Devon on the bid and we are contributing £360,000 to the project over three years. Our villages often lack the facilities enjoyed by people in more urban areas and this will give many more people the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of sports and improve their health and fitness."

The Rural Communities fund is the first of Sport England's themed rounds aimed at addressing some of the biggest challenges to grassroots participation. It will help achieve our Olympic legacy goal of getting a million people playing more sport and our focus on building a world-leading community sport system.

Sport England's Chair, Richard Lewis, said:

"Everyone should have the chance to find the sport they really enjoy. The projects we're investing in today, such as Devon Active Villages, will help us tackle the barriers to participation in rural communities, by delivering sustainable sporting opportunities to thousands of people."

Today's announcement was welcomed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw MP. He said:

"Investing in these exciting and innovative schemes creates another way people in rural communities across Devon can benefit from the Government's drive to boost the nation's health and fitness in the run up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.?"

"Those who live in rural areas deserve to have access to high-quality schemes and facilities, and the chance to try out new and more unusual sports, just as much as people in towns and cities.

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