Sports boss hopes London 2012 will 'light a fire in the bellies' of potential stars (From St Helens Star)
Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Sports boss hopes London 2012 will 'light a fire in the bellies' of potential stars
12:00pm Friday 7th September 2012 in News
THE glorious images and stories of London 2012 are inspiring more people in St Helens to take up sports, according to council chiefs.
Local athletics and cycling clubs have witnessed a swift rise in members, while sports development officers are also fielding an increase in calls about so-called minority sports, such as pole vault and sailing.
The 10-strong sports team at the council has been planning for five years on strategies to capitalise on the Games theme of inspiring a generation.
But even they have been taken aback by the phenomenal success of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Dave Boocock, head of sports development at St Helens Council, hopes the Games will significantly boost participation, particularly among women and girls.
He told the Star: “There have been a number of inquiries from people who want to play tennis, to people asking where the nearest place is they can do pole vaulting.
“There are inquiries about the minority sports that we would not normally get. “But we didn’t start planning yesterday. We have been working since a sports club conference in 2009.
“Over the past seven years we have helped develop 1,500 coaches in the borough, the majority of whom are volunteers, and we’ve worked with clubs to improve facilities and make funding applications.”
Mr Boocock explained there is a diverse range of UK minority sports on offer in St Helens – ranging from triathlon, wrestling, fencing, archery, basketball and sailing to more mainstream sports such as cycling and tennis.
He added: “There are a lot of different opportunities to play sport in St Helens – and it’s also important not to think there’s a wall around the borough, as the north west is rich in further opportunities and the communication links are great.
“It’s about being inspired by watching an athlete like Jess Ennis, then going to a coach or a teacher and having the fire lit in their bellies for a particular sport – and then massively relying on parents, whose roles often range – from taxi driver to PA as they watch their children compete.
“Hopefully, youngsters will watch some of the television clips showing where some of the athletes have come from and what they have gone on to do.
“The make-up of Team GB was 60/40 (state school to private school) and there are positive role models like Jess Ennis and Katherine Grainger, which is important as it can be much more difficult to get girls into sport.”
Details of how to take up sports that featured in London 2012 are available via the St Helens Council website at sthelens.gov.uk.