Group pitches in to ensure bright future

PUBLISHED: 15:40 21 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:41 11 May 2010

BASKETBALL coaching session at Royston Leisure Centre

BASKETBALL coaching session at Royston Leisure Centre

SPORTS people are coming together to help raise the standard of sport in the North Herts area. Under the banner of Sport North Herts, the organisation, which was set up late last year, has unveiled its plans for the future. Sport North Herts chairman Ke

Ken Charles.

SPORTS people are coming together to help raise the standard of sport in the North Herts area.

Under the banner of Sport North Herts, the organisation, which was set up late last year, has unveiled its plans for the future.

Sport North Herts chairman Ken Charles said: "This is an exciting opportunity that will allow us to widen our perspective of sport and recreation in various directions.

"At the behest of Sport England, sports clubs and organisations in North Herts have grouped together with district agencies that see sport and recreation as a vehicle to further their organisations under the title of Sport North Herts.

"We're looking to increase opportunities, introduce new modes of keeping fit and reduce the incidence of obesity, as well as delivering high quality training, and competitive experiences for performers."

Agencies working with Sport North Herts include North Herts District Council, North Herts College, Herts County Youth Service, North Herts Primary Care Trust, North Herts Safety Organisation, DC Leisure, and the School Sports Partnership.

The organisation, which covers Royston, Baldock, Letchworth, and the surrounding villages, has already set a number of targets that include raising the quality of coaching, strengthening bonds between schools and clubs, and recognising and assisting the development of talented young athletes with the 2012 Olympic Games in mind.

It will also look at increasing participation levels, by developing attractive initiatives for young people from 14-19, those over the age of 45, and women across all age groups.

Mr Charles, who is also the Royston and District Sports Council chairman said: "I'm very busy at the moment, but I'm thoroughly enjoying being part of this new project - it's very exciting.

"In a sense our work has already started, and the feedback so far has been great.

"Now it's all about getting the show on the road, and the next six months will be very important for us - we need to be moving forward.

"Royston itself is actually in a fairly good position, and you only have to visit the Heath at the weekend to see that.

"The town and the surrounding villages already have an excellent base to start from.

"We just need to build on it because there is always room to improve.

"But it's not so good across the rest of the county, and across the UK itself.

"A recent survey showed that people are dropping out of sport at an alarming rate. And we want to win them back.

"I'm very determined to create more club and school links, because we need sport to become part of their culture.

"We all share concerns about the increase in obesity, which is unfortunately ever-increasing.

"Therefore it is extremely vital that we encourage a positive attitude towards sport, and we can't just rely on the schools - more needs to be in place for them.

"The Government has set the challenge of every child taking part in at least five hours of sport or physical activity every week, and if that's going to happen more needs to be in place."

And Mr Charles believes that the town's youngsters can also play a vital role in the success of Sports North Herts, after the promising introduction of the sports leadership programme.

He said: "One of our other goals is to improve the quality of coaching and that also includes the development of our younger coaches because they are our future.

"Again, Royston is in a good position, because its schools already have these programmes in place and the young people involved have been doing very well.

"And that's a good thing for everyone.

"There are brilliant young athletes in the North Herts area, and there are a number of local ­youngsters who are of a national and international standard.

"Youngsters like Matt Coppen (bowls), Louise Shortland (pole vault), Nathan Wilson (basketball) and Sebastian Jaunzens (gymnastics) are showing an enormous amount of potential and we want to help them on their way.

"The 2012 Olympic Games are on our doorstep, and there could well be a few of our young athletes who are part of it.

"And by then I hope Sport North Herts will be flourishing and its communities and people benefiting from their involvement in sport.

"However, this scheme cannot just happen on its own - it will need a lot of hard work from all involved.

"But if we can raise awareness and open people's eyes it will all be worthwhile.

"It looks to be an exciting year for us, for what is the start of a long-term project with endless benefits.

"And hopefully it can help shape a bright sporting future.

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