Premier League 4 Sport provides blueprint for sports participation
With the 2012 London Olympics just a few months away it was appropriate that the work of Premier League clubs was heralded as laying the foundations for legacy post what will be the greatest sporting event on British soil in a generation.
In January Premier League 4 Sport (PL4S) - a £3.8m investment by the Premier League and Department for Culture, Media and Sport - held an event to recognise the amazing work that has gone on over the last two years to encourage young people to play the four Olympic sports of badminton, judo, table tennis and volleyball.
The three key aims of PL4S are: to engage young people in sport, to retain them by developing an interest, and to sustain sports participation by committing to competition and coaching qualifications.
With Premier League clubs acting as hubs linking community sports clubs and schools, PL4S has exceeded all its targets: it was hoped there would be 25,000 participants in the first two years but there were over 39,000. With sports participation one of the key pillars of Olympic 2012 Legacy, PL4S has been delivering on that with 9,000 new club and taster sessions, 80 new clubs established across the four sports and in excess of 100 local and national competitions organised.
So successful has the programme been that the Premier League is investing another £2m to expend the programme until at least 2013 and double the number of sports to include basketball, handball, hockey and netball.
PL4S is now one of the Government's blueprints to address declining sports participation figures among young people. Speaking at the PL4S event Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said: "Football can be incredibly powerful in engaging young people. The Premier League 4Sport scheme has already involved tens of thousands of young people, and has given a huge boost to grassroots sport. Initiatives like this will do a huge amount to help deliver the Government's plans to encourage young people to develop a sporting habit for life."
Other big names supporters at the event included Olympic gold-medal sprinter Darren Campbell, former Badminton World Champion Gail Emms and Chelsea legend Graeme Le Saux. Darren Campbell said of PL4S, "This scheme is all about giving young people opportunities and helping them to believe in themselves."
FOOTBALL CAN BE INCREDIBLY POWERFUL IN ENGAGING YOUNG PEOPLE. THE PREMIER LEAGUE 4SPORT SCHEME HAS ALREADY INVOLVED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE, AND HAS GIVEN A HUGE BOOST TO GRASSROOTS SPORT. INITIATIVES LIKE THIS WILL DO A HUGE AMOUNT TO HELP DELIVER THE GOVERNMENT'S PLANS TO ENCOURAGE YOUNG PEOPLE TO DEVELOP A SPORTING HABIT FOR LIFE." JEREMY HUNT, Goal keeper, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR CULTURE, OLYMPICS,MEDIA AND SPORT