Mayor of London announces £1m investment in FreeSport programme

24 July 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has today announced (July 24) a new partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain to give tens of thousands of Londoners the chance to try new sports and activities.


A £500,000 investment by the Mayor in his hugely successful FreeSport programme will be match funded by Coca-Cola Great Britain over the next two years. It is expected that this combined grant of £1 million will enable approximately 34,000 people of all ages and abilities to access free sporting activities and provide grants for around 600 sports clubs and organisations in the capital.


A key part of the Mayor of London’s £22.5m Sports Legacy Programme, FreeSport allows sports clubs, organisations, youth groups and community groups to apply for grants of up to £1,500 to run free activities for Londoners, of all ages and abilities, to encourage more people to try sports.


Since it launched in 2009, the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Programme has benefitted more than 330,000 Londoners. The Mayor has invested almost £900,000 in FreeSport which has engaged almost 60,000 people.


Earlier this month, FreeSport awarded 160 sports clubs and organisations a total of £200,000 in its latest round of funding. FreeSport projects are delivered as a series of activities, rather than one off events. This helps make the activity become a habit and helps offer a clear route for people to carry on playing sport afterwards.


The match funding from Coca-Cola Great Britain will allow the Mayor’s FreeSport programme to reach twice as many people by 2016. The scheme will specifically target those who traditionally are less likely to engage in sport, including women, the elderly, and black and minority ethnic groups.


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “FreeSport has been incredibly popular since it launched in 2009, giving thousands of people the chance to develop a sporting habit that will stay with them for life. This fantastic investment means that we will be able to help tens of thousands more Londoners to get active, try something new and lead healthier lifestyles. Whatever your age or ability, there is bound to be a sport or activity to suit, so give it a go.”


One sports club that has recently been awarded a FreeSport grant is Harrow Squash Club. Based at Harrow Leisure Centre, the club first opened its doors in 1998 and now has 100 full members and 40 juniors. The club has just received £1,021 to introduce squash to people who may otherwise have not taken part in the sport.


Head coach Tony Morrison said: “I am absolutely thrilled that we have been awarded a FreeSport grant – We applied in June and have only just found out the great news. The grant will allow us to start a new programme on Tuesdays and Thursdays that will look to attract adults who are not particularly active in sport. We will be providing instructors and guidance and we cannot wait to get started.”


Today’s investment builds on the company’s current support for community sport and activity programmes in London through the Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives programme which is running in Newham this summer. The Mayor announced the partnership earlier today at an event in Stratford Park, West Ham Lane which marked the start of ParkLives, which offers people 3,500 hours of free, fun activity sessions in ten parks across the borough this summer.


Jon Woods, General Manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain, said: “We want to inspire people to get active in a fun and engaging way that fits in with their life. Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives and the FreeSport programme encourage people of all ages to try something new and take part in physical activities that are free, fun and sociable. Nationally we want to get one million people moving by 2020 by working in partnership with others.”


Sir Robin Wales, The Mayor of Newham, said, “We launched Newham’s Every Child a Sportsperson programme to encourage a generation to take up sport by giving our young people the opportunity to try new activities and become more physically active. Our partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain will enable us to build on this scheme and reach even more of our residents, helping them to live healthy and active lifestyles. We strongly believe that these fun and social activities can inspire people to live a healthy, more active way of life that will help them achieve their potential.”


Coca-Cola Great Britain’s Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives scheme is a key part of the company’s £20m investment in active lifestyle programmes. Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives is offering free and fun activities in local parks this summer, designed to inspire people to get moving, and is delivered in partnership with local authorities, with the aim of getting 1million people active by 2020.


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