Funding is key to London 2012 Olympic legacyBy Jonathan Law
August 21, 2012
Sports clubs have urged funders to continue to back them so they can build on the success of the Team GB Olympians.
Team GB’s success at the Olympic Games is expected to encourage millions to become involved in sport.
However, clubs in Wokingham borough have warned they first need financial backing to attract potential sports men and women and turn them into stars of the future.
Les Stevens, head coach at Pinewood Starr Boxing Club, Old Wokingham Road, Crowthorne, said future boxing success at the Olympics would be down to the amount of funding boxers receive.
He said: “The Olympics have shown what a difference funding can make.
“If you are paid to box, you can put your heart and soul into it and stay fully focussed. You won’t have anything else to worry about.”
Despite the Olympics only finishing on Sunday, clubs have seen changes in people interested in sport.
Boxing was just one of many success stories surrounding British athletes at the Games with a total of five medals, including three golds.
Mr Stevens said there was already a significant amount of interest from people wanting to start boxing at the club.
He added: “It’s been unbelievable. We’ve had more than a dozen boys and girls interested.
“I was gobsmacked with the girls’ success at the Olympics – they really were phenomenal.”
Pinewood Gymnastics Club hired a club development manager two years ago who has been successful in finding funding for equipment,
However, Ross Falsetta, performance director, at the club which has 1,300 members, said individual funding was a different matter. He said: “The fact is it is very difficult for individuals to get funding so they can chase their dreams.
“Our squad members have to fund their own trips to national and international competitions.
“We helped our best artistic boy move to a gym near Heathrow where he could get a bit of funding.
“It is very tough to try to find some sort of subsidy.”
Mike Platt, secretary of the Pinewood Rifle Association, part of the Pinewood Shooting Association, said he was amazed to receive 11 enquiries since the end of the Olympics.
“We have had email enquiries, phone enquiries and one man turned up at the range, saying he had seen it at the Olympics and wanted to take it up.
“Unfortunately, we are full and have a waiting list.
“I have had to explain to them that shooting is governed by very strict rules because of Dunblane but I have directed them to other clubs.”
Simon Walker, former secretary at Bracknell Athletics Club which takes athletes from the borough, said funding was important for the future of British athletics.
“The key is putting money into the grass roots,” he said.
“It’s all right funding elite athletes but you need to underpin the bottom of the tree.”
He also said money was needed to equip clubs with more coaches, as they look to raise the next generation of athletics stars.
“To continue the success there needs to be a commitment from parents and children,” he added.
“And there needs to be the coaches to train people who come through too.”
Councillor Angus Ross, executive member for environment at Wokingham Borough Council and a member of the Wokingham Borough Sports Council committee, said: “The problem about funding is at what level is it put in?
“If it is only at the elite end, it will not help local clubs.
“Through the borough sports council we will try to put some of the money we have into supporting individual athletes in a very small way, but also to try and get together training courses for training qualifications.
“We are hoping the borough council will continue and even increase funding.”
Cllr Ross said another important area of sports development was building strong links between schools and clubs.
He said: “Hopefully children, and their parents, inspired by their Olympics, will put pressure on schools.”
Cllr Ross said the legacy of London 2012 would be down to “the enthusiasm of individuals, both participating and supporting”.