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Tony Blair launches ‘Coaches for Clubs’ campaign for Olympic sporting legacy in the North East

Tony Blair launches ‘Coaches for Clubs’ campaign for Olympic sporting legacy in the North East

Tony Blair today launched his Sports Foundation's campaign to open up grassroots sports to thousands across the region, in the lead up to next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Inspired by 2012, the 'Coaches for Clubs' campaign will see the Foundation team up with school and sports clubs across the North East to inspire people to become volunteers, coaches and officials in the communities that need them most.

Speaking during a tour of grassroots sports clubs across the North East today, Founder and Patron of the Sports Foundation, Tony Blair said:

"The Olympics is going to be the biggest focus for sport in the whole world for 2012, and that shouldn’t just be about the top-level athletes; it's also got to be about grassroots sports, and the key to grassroots sports are volunteers and coaches. And that's what the Sports Foundation’s Coaches for Clubs campaign will do: it will inspire people to become volunteers and coaches and that will give thousands of children and young people access to sport.

"The great thing about this campaign is that it gives young people an opportunity to get involved in sport, young people who otherwise wouldn’t have that chance."

The 'Coaches for Clubs' campaign will:

· Inspire 365 North East residents to sign up to be sports coaches or officials through the Tony Blair Sports Foundation (TBSF);

· Encourage community organisations and sports clubs to increase participation in sport by young people across the region in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games;

· Engage with community sports organisations and schools to act as placement hosts for TBSF coaches.

Commenting on the motivation behind the decision to launch the campaign and the bid for the Olympics when he was Prime Minister, Tony Blair said:

"This is all about inspiration. The inspiration to take up sport, to inspire others to do so, and the inspiration that actually was behind the very reason we decided to bid for the Olympics. And that was to say that the biggest sporting event in the world, wasn't just going to change that bit of London in which it’s located, or for the weeks of the event itself, but actually was going to change our country, its attitude to sport and the sporting legacy for the nation.

"And that's why I set up the Sports Foundation four years ago. I want that sporting legacy to benefit the North East."

During today's grassroots sports tour of the North East, Tony Blair visited schools and clubs to meet some of the children and young people who stand to benefit from the Coaches for Clubs campaign:

Benfield School, Benfield Road, Newcastle upon Tyne

As Benfield School helps to host the UK's largest ever single authority multi-sports school event, the School 500 Games, Tony Blair spoke with young people participating as well as the volunteers, school and council representatives who have made it all happen. This is exactly the kind of event that Sports Foundation volunteers will play a key role in supporting in the future.

Castle View Enterprise Academy, Cartwright Road, Sunderland

At Castle View, Tony Blair saw for himself the impact the Foundation's corporate scheme, TBSF for Business, is having on school sports. He met Foundation volunteers who have been recruited from North East businesses and placed at Castle View Academy. School children played a variety of sports, supervised by the Foundation volunteers, whose very presence has already widened access to sport for hundreds at Castle View.

Lanchester Lawn Tennis Club, Ford Road, Lanchester, Durham

At one of the UK’s oldest lawn tennis clubs, Tony Blair visited Lanchester to celebrate their centenary year. 25 children will be playing tennis, supervised by Sports Foundation volunteers and coaches. This is just one of the tennis clubs that has benefited from the Foundation's partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association, helping to place coaches where they are needed most. The Coaches for Clubs campaign will work to ensure that even more coaches are recruited and placed in the tennis clubs that need them most. 

Durham Wildcats Basketball Club, Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre, Beveridge Arcade, Newton Aycliffe

Tony Blair visited Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre, home of the Durham Wildcats to announcing the Sports Foundation’s new community partnership with the basketball team. As part of Coaches for Clubs, the Foundation are linking up with the British Basketball League's newest team. The Foundation will work closely with the Wildcats to recruit, train and place coaches who will work with schools across Durham, opening up basketball to thousands who wouldn’t normally get the chance to play.