MP Steve Barclay with Jennie Price, Sport England CEO & Charles Johnston, Property Director

Above: with Jennie Price, Sport England CEO & Charles Johnston, Property Director

Fenland looks set to ace £250,000 of funding to help promote sports coaching and to encourage more participation after my campaign to challenge the poor funding for rural sport.

As a keen rugby supporter and sports enthusiast, I wanted to convince Sport England to stump up the cash for a pilot scheme aimed at improving rural sport.

I first highlighted the issue of funding for rural sport in the House of Commons in December 2013 and continued to highlight the issue through a series meetings with the Sports Minister, the Chief Executive of Sport England and the chief executives of other national sporting bodies.

Now Sport England have agreed to fund a project aimed at getting more people into sport and to provide better coaching opportunities for the area’s sportsmen and women.

I grew up with rugby, with my father coaching youth rugby at Fylde Rugby Club based in my home town of Lytham St Anne’s for 39 years and both I and my two brothers played for the club.

As a result I understand the importance of sport and was stunned when I was first elected to discover the lack of investment received by local clubs from Sport England.

I’m very excited at the prospect of the Sport England funding, which is now the subject of a detailed bid by Fenland District Council, which will set out how the pilot scheme will encourage more people to get involved in sports across the constituency.

If successful the pilot will be rolled out across other rural areas nationwide.

Sport participation in Fenland has fallen seven per cent since the Olympics and in fact it has one of the lowest participation rates in the country. The benefits of being involved in sport are numerous ranging from the obvious health benefits to improving community spirit.

It has been a long fight and it is not over yet. Fenland has categorically not received its fair share of funding in the past and it still needs more but the pilot scheme is an exciting start and hopefully one on which we can build in the future.

Fenland District Council is expected to have the bid ready for submission within the next two months.

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