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Pay as you play

CHILDREN are paying between 50p and pound;1 a session for after-school coaching in a parallel Northern Ireland scheme that has been hailed a success by Scottish researchers.

The scheme involves primary children in deprived areas of Belfast and Mary Allison, research fellow at the Centre for Leisure Research at Edinburgh University, said it was agreed at the outset five years ago that coaching would not be viable without income from pupils.

Co-ordinators, appointed from secondary school staffs, are paid an extra pound;2,500 to organise sport in feeder primaries and are given two hours off timetable a week. They are backed by a budget of pound;1,000 a year. Funding comes from a variety of sources but not yet from the lottery.

In 10 schools surveyed, 88 per cent of primary pupils had been involved in out of hours sport and 58 per cent of secondary pupils. Nearly 70 co-ordinators are working with 325 schools, leading to a sharp upturn in sports numbers.

Finding and retaining good coaches is the biggest difficulty, the researchers say.

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