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Lottery boost to get more London students playing sport

University students in London are being urged to give sport another go after the Queen Mary Students’ Union secured £216,548 in National Lottery funding from Sport England.

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Along with 40 other projects, QM Get Active is being backed by Sport England’s £10m 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.

QM Get Active aims to provide recreational and competitive opportunities across 10 sports for the 86 per cent of students who say they want to play more sport. It will also give thousands of students the chance to train as coaches and sports leaders.

The project has been designed to suit the needs of the students, many of whom come from Tower Hamlets. There will be no membership fees and flexible drop-in sessions will be offered a times to fit in with students other commitments.

Sport and Societies Manager, Toby Emmerson, said: “QMSU is so excited about this opportunity. Active University funding will provide us with a project coordinator and the funds to run a comprehensive programme; where all activities will take place on or around campus.”

Vice President (Student Activities), Dominic Bell, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students – we are confident that this project will enhance the student experience. We know that it will be successful and we aim to build on that success year-on-year. Active Universities will act as a springboard for us in our aim to be the number one university in London for sports participation and satisfaction by 2015.”

Vice Principal (Teaching and Learning), Professor Susan Dilly said: “This is a great start to our Sports Strategy which will significantly increase the opportunities for students who come to QM to try out new sports, to obtain quality coaching to improve in their sport and to meet other students for relaxation and fun.”

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 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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