Local sport clubs pleading for post-Olympics funding boost

Photo Neil Cross'Garstang School of Gymnastics has just received �50,000 from the Olympic Legacy Fund to help with their expansion project.'Georgia Finch
Photo Neil Cross'Garstang School of Gymnastics has just received �50,000 from the Olympic Legacy Fund to help with their expansion project.'Georgia Finch

GARSTANG sports clubs are backing calls for increased local-level funding in a bid to “inspire a generation” following the British success at the 2012 Olympics.

The nation’s stunning achievements at the London games have captured the imagination of wannabe athletes across the district, but local sports coaches agree more funds are needed to improve facilities and to help youngsters emulate the success future competitions.

Garstang Swimming Club recently celebrated a haul of medals at the annual Troutbeck Bridge Medals Gala in Kendal and team manager Steve Eccles said the youngsters were full of confidence after watching the record-breaking achievements in the Olympic pool.

But he called for greater support and investment from local authorities to help overcome the problems facing small clubs who battle for pool hire and struggle for cash for new equipment and travel to competitions.

He said: “We are a relatively small club of some 180 members and all our money is raised ourselves through fundraising or donations.

“We receive no funding from local or central government. Each year it is becoming more and more expensive for pool hire, replacing old equipment and coach hire to events. All the committee, including fundraisers, team manager, welfare officer, and timekeepers, are volunteers and give their time freely.

“All are very committed; the club would not run without them.

“I find it unbelievable that councils are even considering closing the very meagre sports facilities found in Garstang and surrounding areas when they should be finding ways of keeping them open and improving them, extending them and encouraging more youngsters to join in.”

Many of the Garstang Amateur Swimming Club members join at an early age, progressing to competitive swimming at the age of nine.

Steve said the club was continually striving for new membership from all backgrounds and encouraging people to the pool for social fitness or competition. A number of the club’s young swimmers have gone on to represent at local, Lancashire county and North West regional levels.

He added: “The swimmers have been enthralled by the recent events at the Olympic pool. To see competitors as young as 15 becoming Olympic champions is great encouragement.

“We would like an Olympic swimmer from Garstang in the future, but it won’t happen unless we can get local councils to see the light and help it happen, not just for our club but for all the others too.”

Last month, Garstang Gymnastics Club celebrated the news it was to receive a £50,000 grant from the Olympic Legacy Fund, to help fufil its expansion plans.

But club coach Mandy Thompson highlighted the club’s need for further investment to help secure the development project.

The Nateby-based club is also holding additional open days this month to attract new members.

Wyre Council revealed in July that it was planning to invest more in leisure for the borough, but it has yet to confirm if the funds will be spent on existing leisure buildings or new facilities.

Earlier this week the chairman of the British Olympic Association, Lord Moynihan said the Government needed to increase budgets for school sports and called for local authorities to keep school playing fields open while increasing the number of routes into new sports.