A £10 million investment into club sport has been announced by sportscotland, the national agency for sport.
The four-year funding plan will create almost 50 new regional development posts for Scottish Governing Bodies of sport (SGBs), as well as a Direct Club Investment (DCI) programme to support the growth of individual clubs.
Ayr Seaforth Athletics Club is one of the first 11 clubs to benefit from the DCI programme, having been awarded £9,000 over three years to employ a part-time Club Together Officer to develop key areas of the club and drive membership.
This announcement marks a significant change in the way local sport clubs in Scotland are supported, and will provide a model which helps clubs develop in a sustainable way.
The new investment allows clubs across Scotland to develop and meet expanding capacity demands as interest in sport continues to grow ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Announcing the investment at Carnegie Swimming Club, one of the first recipients of Direct Club Investment, Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: “We are making significant progress in implementing a world-class sporting system at all levels, and this investment demonstrates our commitment to the growth of clubs throughout the country.
“The connection between school sport, club sport, and high performance sport is crucial in our drive to provide more and better opportunities for people to become involved in sport and physical activity.
“Our high performance system is already providing results on the world stage, our Active Schools Network is making a significant impact on school sport, and Community Sport Hubs are helping to unite local clubs.
“Today’s investment is a further commitment from sportscotland to grow the club sport network across Scotland by providing every opportunity for talented club athletes to flourish, and paving the way for our future champions.
“As excitement about next year’s Glasgow Games continues to grow across the country, Direct Club Investment and the Regional Development Officers for SGBs are helping to meet the increasing demand on capacity and deliver a lasting legacy for clubs.”
Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, added: “The Direct Club Investment programme supports our ambition to encourage more people to be active and take part in sport.
“With the Commonwealth Games less than a year away, this new investment will play a pivotal role in developing the club sport network across Scotland and will leave a lasting legacy that can be enjoyed for years to come.”
The new investment for the regional development posts of £5,813,500 over the next four years will ensure that there are more professional people working directly to support local sport clubs, which will help improve the overall quality of the school to club to performance pathways.
This focused work enables Scottish Governing Bodies of sport to work more closely with their member clubs, and with local partners, to improve the opportunities for clubs to flourish.
Using National Lottery funding, the DCI is designed to support large-scale club development projects over a two to four-year period, with a focus on either growing club membership or enhancing club environments to allow the development of high performance athletes, with some clubs focusing on both aspects.
In the first year it is expected that around 50 clubs will be supported through DCI, with 11 clubs having already secured investment.
The successful applicants so far cover six different sports (hockey, swimming, gymnastics, athletics, rowing, and basketball) across five regions of Scotland. All projects need to be sustained by the club over time, with the investment giving the clubs the necessary time to enable them to make a significant step forward in their development – effectively helping them to help themselves.
Projects range from employing a part-time performance swimming coach that will give 30 additional swimmers a better environment to achieve their potential, to a hockey club employing a part-time co-ordinator to focus on the club’s links to schools, aiming to significantly grow their membership.
Any sport club can submit a business case to apply for investment, with all cases then considered and approved by their respective Regional Sporting Partnership before finally being considered by a sportscotland panel.
Further support for clubs is also provided through the Help for Clubs section on sportscotland’s website, which is being updated to ensure it meets the needs of local clubs (http://www.sportscotland.org.uk/helpforclubs).