Olympic Legacy: Grassroots leaders warn more funding must be provided to realise young Scots’ potential

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie

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POTENTIAL Olympic gold medallists of the future could be lost because of a chronic lack of facilities and investment in the Lothians, sporting bodies have warned.

Several groups have reported concerns over funding and fears that it may be a struggle to repeat the glory of London 2012.

Britain's team compete in London

Britain's team compete in London

It comes as the Evening News continues its look at the state of sport in the region and asks how the legacy of the Games should be used to promote the stars of the future.

Richard Thomas, chairman of Amateur Boxing Scotland, said that its overall budget would have to more than double if our male fighters – such as Prestonpans-born Josh Taylor – are able to compete on the international stage.

He said that it had been almost impossible for a female fighters from the Lothians to get an opportunity to share the success of Yorkshire’s new superstar Nicola Adams, as SportScotland had refused repeated requests to invest a single penny in women’s boxing.

Referring to women’s boxing, Mr Thomas said: “For the past two-and-a-half years, we’ve been asking for investment from SportScotland and we’ve received absolutely nothing. It’s a major concern.”

Meanwhile, it emerged that aspiring gymnasts are having to take places on waiting lists in a bid to join a club in the city, and even those who are able to take part in the sport are forced to do so in facilities that often leave much to be desired.

In some sports a lack of specialist coaches was reported, leading to fears that the infrastructure in the Lothians may be unable to take the strain of the increased interest generated by the Olympics.

Mr Thomas called for a more transparent and clearer approach to the distribution of funding among national 
governing bodies, saying sports such as badminton received far more cash than boxing, despite providing few world-class competitors and less benefit to wider society.

Although women fighters were well-funded if they were selected for Team GB, Mr Thomas said it would be an insurmountable task for Lothian females to qualify due to the lack of grassroots investment.

Male boxers also faced a struggle, he said, with £240,000 covering a Talent ID boxing programme for 60 schoolboys and juniors as well as the 30 elite amateur boxers.

“It’s nowhere near enough,” he added. “The reason they give money to sport is to reduce health problems, crime and support young people in deprived areas. There’s not another sport that can offer what we can offer.”

In gymnastics, there are 631 members of ten clubs in the City of Edinburgh area alone.

Caitriona O’Shea, chief executive officer for the Scottish Gymnastics Association, said: “The number of kids on waiting lists is high. It is a challenge to keep up with demand, but it’s a good issue to have.

“In Edinburgh it’s like any region – we could do with having a dedicated facility but there’s nowhere in the country where the situation is ideal.

“There’s a dedicated facility at West Lothian but it’s not up to standard. We have some of the best gymnasts in Scotland but they’re not in great facilities.”

She said there was nowhere in the entire country where rhythmic gymnasts could adequately practice, as there is not a centre with a high enough ceiling to throw apparatus far into the air.

Other sports hoping to capitalise on the Olympic fever include basketball, hockey and sailing, but representatives said they would benefit from extra resources.

Rugby, which will be an Olympic sport in Rio in 2016, is also keen to benefit, with Scottish Rugby saying it wanted to promote the sport in state schools.

A SportScotland spokesman said that the country’s record-breaking medal haul of 13 had been “phenomenal” and that the body would work to ensure the Olympics has a lasting legacy. He added that funding for boxing was set to be reviewed in autumn.

The spokesman added: “£6.208 million was invested in the SportScotland institute of sport, the organisation’s high-performance arm, in the last financial year and we are committed to continuing to invest in the progression of sport and physical activity in Scotland.

“A total of £350,000 was also invested in the Scottish Athlete Personal Awards scheme, which offers an annual financial award of £3000, £5000 or £10,000 to individual athletes who are considered to have the potential to deliver a medal-winning performance at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.”

Hockey

What needs to happen:

• More coaches trained and more facilities for training and competition

• Smoother transition from primary school, high school and club teams

• Capitalise on minimum requirements for quality PE in schools

How much will it cost: Salary for a full-time officer plus delivery and training budget is £50,000-£75,000

Bill Robson, Scottish Hockey East Deveelopment Officer: “There are many very good, strong,

successful clubs in Edinburgh, but the development of hockey in Edinburgh would be improved by having a full-time hockey development officer in post.”

WHAT the impact/benefit will be: Pam Scott, Scottish Hockey development manager said: “Clearly, greater investment would help, both for new pitches and for regional development and competitions.”

Boxing

What needs to happen:

• More boxing events

• Stronger clubs

• More media coverage and publicity

How much will it cost: An extra £310,000 annually

Richard Thomas, chairman of amateur boxing scotland: “Like any sport, success comes through funding. We have asked for investment in women’s boxing from SportScotland and have received absolutely nothing. We get £240,000 for male boxing, it’s nowhere near enough.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “Boxing clubs are real anchors for local communities with high unemployment. There’s not another sport that can offer what we can offer in areas that need most help. No sport can get kids off the streets like boxing. The Scottish capital had an Olympian who did fantastically well, but we need the funding to get more lads on to the Team GB programme.”

Basketball

What needs to happen:

• More basketball activities for primary school-age children

• Strong clubs promoting themselves

• More affordable access to basketball courts

How much will it cost:

• Taster sessions in primary schools are reliant on volunteer coaches

• Help with basketball court hire which currently costs clubs from £20 to £50 an hour, and can be particularly expensive in Edinburgh, is needed

Chris Dodds, Head of Communities for basketball Scotland: “We all have a responsibility to inspire the next generation of players and coaches. Basketball in Edinburgh and the Lothians is already on the rise and in a strong position to capitalise on the Olympic effect.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “The impact of more coaches, stronger clubs and more affordable courts will be phenomenal. With more children playing basketball, they would be fitter, healthier and happier kids. With more players and more clubs, our coaching workforce will be increased, motivated and better educated to coach the players and develop them both on and off the court.”

Sailing

What needs to happen:

• More sailing and kayaking programmes in schools

• More funding for Port Edgar and sailing clubs to allow them to widen participation to those with no access to their own boats

• Improved facilities along Edinburgh’s shoreline to improve access to the sea

How much will it cost: Widening participation would cost £50,000+ depending on the scale of the programme, investing in improved facilities such as slipways would be considerably more.

Ian Coldwell, Portobello sailing and kayaking club: “We are equally keen on getting young people involved who won’t necessarily go on to compete but just want to take part in sailing as a leisure activity. There is a strong dinghy sailing programme in spite of uncertain weather, but there is scope to do more.”

What the impact/benefit will be: “It will begin to widen opportunities to take part in sailing, particularly for interested young people.”

Gymnastics

What needs to happen:

• Improved facility development

• Getting rid of waiting lists to join clubs

• Improved lessons in schools

How much will it cost: A refurbished facility could cost £250,000, while a new development could cost in excess of £1 million.

Caitriona O’Shea, Chief Executive at Scottish Gymnastics Association: “Membership rates are growing but we know the number of kids on waiting lists is high. In

Edinburgh, we could do with another dedicated facility.”

WHAT the impact/benefit will be: “If we can provide resources good enough to bring our gymnasts up to standard, we could have some really strong Scottish role models. That would be fantastic.”

Rugby

What needs to happen:

• More extra-curricular school sport

• Increase in school sport competitions

• More support for clubs

How much will it cost: No specific amount, but efforts will be made to use a partnership approach so no one body bears the financial brunt

Scottish RUGBY Regional Development Manager Doc McKelvey: “The Olympics have put a spotlight on how as a nation we continue to develop sport through schools and clubs. Rugby in Edinburgh is moving in the right direction with an increase of 11 per cent in youth registered players across Edinburgh & Midlothian from our most recent audit in May compared to May 2011 and a five per cent increase in adult registered players in the same period.”

what the impact/benefit will be: “The benefits to the wider community from increased participation in sport include a healthier population and one in which the sort of pride we have seen throughout the Olympic Games is in evidence at a community and doorstep level.”