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Lottery boost to get more Bristol students playing sport

Students playing lacrosse

Students playing lacrosse

Press release issued: 31 March 2011

Students at the University of Bristol are being urged to give sport another go after a project secured £173,211 in National Lottery funding from Sport England.

Students at the University of Bristol are being urged to give sport another go after a project secured £173,211 in National Lottery funding from Sport England.

Along with 40 other projects, Participation Pathways 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.

Participation Pathways aims to inspire students to take up one of 16 sports on offer at the university, including athletics, netball, lacrosse, triathlon and volleyball. Through a range of introductory sessions, sports festivals and recreational competitions throughout the year, the project will reach out to those students not currently taking part in regular sport or involved in a club.

Delivered by qualified coaches, the project will tackle some of the participation barriers facing students by creating more flexible and sociable sporting opportunities, as well as ensuring the sustainability of the project by supporting students to take coaching qualifications. Participation Pathways offers students a great opportunity to develop skills that will help their personal development and future job prospects.

Simon Hinks, the University’s Director of Sport, Exercise & Health, said: “This project is the missing link in our sporting programme. We already have a great offer for students who are involved in our competitive teams at the start of the year – now there will be more opportunities for those who don’t want to play competitively, or come to sport a bit later in the year. Working in partnership, the university and the University Students’ Union look forward to linking with governing bodies of sport and other partners on this project to change the face of student sport here in Bristol.”

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 have 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 medalist, 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.”


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