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Poorest areas to get pound;5m fillip

An appeal has gone out to sports coaches - including those in FE colleges - for 10,000 volunteers to promote sport in deprived communities.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is investing pound;5 million in the recruitment campaign from April 2008, supported by Sport England and sports national governing bodies.

The aim is to boost sports activities in the country's 70 poorest communities by providing three million extra coaching hours in disciplines such as rugby, tennis, basketball and football.

Despite the expected increase in take-up of sports in the run-up to the London Olympics, ministers believe a substantial push is still needed to reduce the number of children going without exercise. It is also hoped that a spin-off will help develop talent at a young age among those who are potential professional or world-class athletes.

James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, stressed that the scheme is aimed at improving levels of exercise among children and teenagers, but said that the project is also about community cohesion.

Experienced sports coaches are welcome to volunteer, but the project is also open to those without previous experience - for example, lecturers with experience of working with teenagers but whose specialist subject does not give them the physical exercise they need.

Jennie Price, chief executive of Sport England, said: "We know good coaches are as vital for ordinary participants as for elite athletes. They can help halt the traditional drop-off in participation by making sport fun and enthusing people to stay involved.

"Sport England has developed 3,000 community coaches since 2002 and we look forward to building on this with Sports Coach UK, a registered charity that promotes good-quality coaching, and the Government."

Patrick Duffy, Sports Coach UK's chief executive, said: "We welcome people participating more in sport by 2012."

A coaching framework is being set up to create an ethical, inclusive and valued coaching system where skilled coaches support children, players and athletes at all stages of their development.

The extra funding has been welcomed by StreetGames, a national charity set up to improve the provision of sport to young people in disadvantaged communities. It will use its share of the cash to expand on the 20 projects it already runs around the country.

Jane Ashworth, chief executive of StreetGames, said: "This additional funding will make a significant impact on the provision of sport for young people in some of the most deprived areas.

"Often these places are lacking in sporting opportunities. But StreetGames can address this, build stronger communities and change the lives of even more young people through sport."

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