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Ensure games legacy, lottery fund chief urges Government

News | Published in TESS on 9 October, 2009 | By: Emma Seith

Commonwealth Games is a huge incentive for Scotland to make sure something worthwhile is left behind

The Scottish Government needs to move up a gear if it is to fulfil its ambition of creating a legacy of lasting good health from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, it has been warned.

The director of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland cautions that nations which have hosted equivalent events have invariably failed to cash in on their potential. If Scotland is to make the most of its “once in a lifetime opportunity to do something amazing” through the Commonwealth Games, the momentum has to be maintained, said Dharmendra Kanani.

The Big Lottery Fund Scotland has invested more than £100 million in getting Scots active by creating 175 new sporting facilities and allowing tens of thousands of young people, many deemed hard to reach, to take part in sport.

Schools have also benefited through the introduction of programmes aimed at their most challenging pupils - fitness suites, squash courts, sport pitches and climbing walls have sprung up all over the country. “The infrastructure is there and ready to be built on and the prototype of engagement is there,” said Mr Kanani. “If you think of it as a deal, we have fulfilled our part of it by adding value.”

His message to the Government was: “Start community engagement now and think of it as being as important to the success of the event as balancing the books. People have been poor at that in the past and thought about a legacy as something built on afterwards.”

Shona Robison, Minister for Public Health and Sport, who attended the conference on the 2014 legacy, said: “Reaching these communities is a challenge, but it’s one we must face. We all want a Scotland that is fit, healthy and a great place to live.”

The Big Lottery Fund’s investment in sport and physical activity has been done through six main programmes: New Opportunities for PE and Sports (NOPES) programme (£88.3m), Active Futures (£5.5m), Youth Football Action Plan (£6m), School Sports Co-ordinators (£2.8m), Young People’s Fund (£3.3m has been invested in sporting activities from this £25m fund) and 2014 Communities (£6.8m available until 2014).

Among the Scottish beneficiaries over the last five years from NOPES have been: St Katherine’s Secure Unit - the courtyard was developed to allow 17 girls in local authority care the opportunity to play football, basketball, volleyball, badminton and in-line skating; Falkirk Fury Basketball club, which took basketball into 50 primaries, producing five international players, including two in the 2012 London Olympics programme; and Stramash, in Argyll and Bute, which began as an outdoor activities programme for schoolchildren but recently became an adventure tourism social enterprise.

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