The Tony Blair Sports Foundation aims to improve access to sport for young people in the North East by increasing the number of volunteer coaches, leaders and officials in grassroots sport.
Athletics is in the blood of the North East. We’re well known for producing champions in many sports but, in particular, athletics.
Getting young people into athletics is only possible because volunteers support the club system by helping to nurture young athletes to develop their potential and provide an outlet for children to experience the fun and enjoyment athletics offers. And that's just what TBSF member John Renney has been doing since qualifying as an Athletics Coach – inspiring more young people! Read more
Basketball is a fun and intensely active game and is one of two new sports that the Foundation added to its portfolio in 2009.
Its free flowing rules make for a fast paced game where being able to complete fundamental skills quickly and correctly is essential. Being quick thinking and adaptable are vital to becoming a good coach or official.
We work closely with the Newcastle Eagles Community Foundation, the Durham Wildcats and other clubs across the region to recruit more trained coaches and officials in this rapidly growing sport so that the phenomenal growth and popularity can be sustained at grassroots level.
The Foundation's most recent addition to our sporting portfolio is Canoeing, which was included in our list of sports in 2012.
Having worked alongside Canoe England during the delivery of our most recent Get Going, Get Rowing Indoor Rowing competitions, we saw a fantastic opportunity to collaborate and develop the North East's pool of coaches, leaders and officials so that more people across the region can access paddle sports.
Cricket became part of The Tony Blair Sports Foundation at the beginning of 2012. With top flight cricket played at Durham County Cricket Club and scores of local community clubs, cricket is a hugely popular sport in the North East from professional to grassroots levels.
There are hundreds of opportunities to get involved in cricket as a coach, leader or volunteer. The vast number of community cricket clubs and the exciting Kwik Cricket and Inter Cricket schools competitions which take place during the summer mean that there is something for everyone to take part in. The partnership between The Foundation, Northumberland Cricket Board and Durham Cricket Board will ensure that these clubs and competitions are supported by qualified and dedicated volunteer coaches, leaders and officials.
After the world renowned success of Team GB at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, we soon recognised that as a region we weren’t maximising the existing opportunities already provided to us and it was in 2009 that we introduced Cycling to our programme to help deliver a coaching structure that was sustainable for its new fan base.
The Level 1 entry level coaching award provides new coaches with the ability to deliver cycling activity in environments such as playing fields, tennis courts and large indoor gymnasiums meaning that more young people are provided with access to cycling at an entry level.
In 2010, we developed a recruitment programme with local charity Daisy Chain and you can read more about this successful partnership here.
Since 2014, we have partnered with Bike4Health, a community-interest company which aims to introduce children to cycling related activities from a young age to help foster a passion for health and wellbeing. We have developed a joint programme where we bring together Bike4Health's expertise in cycling and bike maintenance with our Leadership Programme which encourages students to get more involved through volunteering and coaching.
In 2015, we agreed a partnership with Northumbria Vikings Cycle Speed Club (NCSC), an amateurs sports club affiliated with British Cycling and aims to promote the sport of Cycle Speedway in Cramlington and across the rest of Northumberland. This great sport offers to enhance the lives of local youngsters and the wider community by offering a healthy, outdoor, high anaerobic exciting sport and provides a safe and supervised environment for young people to enjoy themselves in. You can read more about NCSC here.
Indoor rowing offers people of all ages and abilities the chance to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle. It can also provide a focus for community activity and by working with local community centres, local groups and schools we can increase participation by targeting those who do not take part in traditional sports.
The Foundation has worked with Competition Managers, British Rowing, Sports Universities North East England, Concept2 and the local Strategic Health Authority to organise and support the first ever North East school indoor rowing competition Get Going Get Rowing which has grown in strength since its launch in 2009.
Amy McCarthy is one of the young people that has benefited from the Get Going, Get Rowing programme in more ways than one and you can read her story here.
We work closely with the Lawn Tennis Association to develop tennis in the North East and to develop a joint programme to encourage more people to train as coaching assistants and help them become fully accredited licensed coaches.
One of the most lucrative strategies to increasing participation has been to increase the number of competitions for young players and in 2007 we launched the inaugural Tony Blair Sports Foundation Tennis Challenge Cup. Inevitably, this has meant that as more young people have access to tennis, more coaches and coaching assistants are needed to support the growing infrastructure.
The event, now recognised as one of the most prestigious school competitions in the country, sees around 5,000 young people join in the North East tennis experience.
There has been a big increase in the number of running groups being set up. With the introduction of England Athletics and Run England coaching courses, the foundation has been helping new groups campaign to get new members and recruit volunteers to train as new coaches. Running groups with qualified running leaders are able to attact those people who want to get fit by running but don't know where to start.
We are partnering with the Run Peterlee group to recruit and train running leaders and a coach in running fitness. We have also worked in partnership with Tyne Bridge Harriers (TBH) since its inception in 2001 and are proud to have seen how they have successfully grown from a group of just 14 to almost 400 runners.
If you have been inspired to become a coach, leader or official and want to become a member of the foundation, sign up today.