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New youth sports project discovers hopeful rowing champions

Sportivate discovers new hopeful rowing champions

An exciting new Olympic-inspired sports initiative, Sportivate, has proven to be a massive hit in Cornwall and has seen almost 600 young people take up playing sport in just 10 months.

With less than six months to go before the Olympics, thousands of young people in the South West are being inspired to do more sport, thanks to Sport England's Sportivate legacy programme and Cornwall is leading the way for the region.  592 young people have taken part in the fun courses so far, with the help of Cornwall Sports Partnership, which is managing the National Lottery funded programme in the county.

As well as creating a pathway for young people to get involved in something new, the initiative is also revealing new talent. Some of the participants that took part in a Sportivate project with Nankersey Gig Club have since been selected to take part in the 2012 Gig Rowing World Championships on the Isles of Scilly.

Oli Maskrey, 20, a Science student from the University of Exeter Tremough Campus, enthuses: "I love rowing because it gets me out on the water. We're all really excited about going to the world championships which is a really great opportunity that I wouldn't have had without the Sportivate project that got me started!"

This week Oli and his crew rowed into action at a special event, at Nankersey Gig Club in Mylor, to help encourage students from Truro College to take part. During the event, over 30 students were able to have a go at rowing, sailing and kayaking; a taster of the types of activities they could be doing through Sportivate. Also on hand throughout the event, offering inspirational tips and advice was Sporting Champion, Olympic weightlifter, Michaela Breeze.

Responding to the legacy pledge made by Seb Coe in Singapore in 2005, Sportivate is giving teenagers and young adults - who currently aren't playing sport in their own time - the chance to receive six to eight weeks of coaching in a sport of their choice. The young people are then helped to find a club or venue where they can keep taking part.

Mike Thomas, Director at the Cornwall Sports Partnership, comments: "Through Sportivate funding we have been able to invest in Cornish community clubs and organisations, providing essential resources to get more young people more active and to also work towards building a legacy from the 2012 Olympic games. Its success in Cornwall has been incredible and in just 10 months almost 600 young people have participated in six weeks or more of sporting activity and continued to enjoy taking part in that activity within their community.

"It has also been a pleasure to be a part of the Sporting Champions programme which is supporting Sportivate and has enabled sporting role models, like Michaela Breeze, to inspire young people to participate and go on to perform at high levels. The evidence of that support is highlighted here today by some of our Sportivate participants from Nankersey Gig Club being selected to row in the 2012 Gig Rowing World Championships on the Isle of Scillies".

Rhiannon Halliday, from British Rowing, comments: "Sportivate funding via Cornwall Sports Partnership has been vital in supporting clubs to increase participation in rowing within the target age group of 16-25.

"In Cornwall, clubs have used the funding to support the running of accessible 'learn to row' courses for young people and contributions towards coaching qualifications for volunteers will also ensure the projects are sustainable.

"Success stories for 2011 include the projects run at Looe and Nankersey rowing clubs, where 10 out of 10 of the participants continued to row into 2012 with Looe, and 12 out of 12 at Nankersey".

Following the launch of the programme last year, a number of funded projects have been successfully set up to support Cornish youngsters try something new and subsequently continue to enjoy playing. Two success stories in Cornwall are 'Sportivate Gymivate' at a number of Cornish leisure centres and 'Sportivate Touches Down' at the Dracaena Centre in Falmouth.

James Clarke, Senior Development Officer with Cornwall Council Leisure, comments: "The Sportivate Gymivate project has been a real success and has seen over 200 young people access our facilities across the county.

"We know from the data we collected, that the majority of the young people on the project were not previous users of the leisure facilities and many stated they had done very little physical activity in the previous four weeks to registering.  We hope that the young people who have accessed the Gymivate project will continue to use the facilities or take part in other physical activities."

Jamie Tresidder, Sports Development Officer at the Dracaena Centre, comments: "Sportivate has proven to be a huge success at The Dracaena Centre in Falmouth with over 75 16-25 year olds from the local community in a number of different activities. It has provided the participants with access to these sports in a recreational and casual environment where they have been able to gain the confidence and skills to develop and sustain participation.

"Through the success of Sportivate and the enthusiasm it has given the participants, we are now developing both an American Football and Ladies Football team to be based at The Dracaena Centre which are now actively looking for friendly fixtures. 

"Thank you to The CSP, the coaches and all the participants for making Sportivate such a massive success here at Dracaena!"

All those who complete a sports course, missing no more than one session, and then continue to participate in sport for at least three months will have the chance to enter a ballot for free London 2012 tickets. Sport England has hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic tickets available for Sportivate participants via the London 2012 Ticketshare initiative.

Sport England's Chair, Richard Lewis, said: "We're delighted that so many young people in the South West have been inspired to get involved in sport through Sportivate. This is what the Olympic and Paralympic legacy is all about and it's great to hear about the many young people discovering a new passion for sport."

If you are interested in taking part in a Sportivate project or are an organisation or sports club that could offer a suitable project to encourage 14 to 25 year olds to be more active, you may be eligible to receive Sportivate funding - please click here for further details