SPORT0061Students at Edge Hill University will have more chances to play sport thanks to £213,689 National Lottery funding from Sport England’s University Sport Activation Fund.

The university is one of 54 universities to benefit from nearly £10 million of funding to help get nearly 180,000 new students playing sport.

The grant will fill existing gaps in sports provision at Edge Hill University, and after consulting hundreds of students about how they’d like the money to be spent, the programme will particularly target students who live on the University’s campus in Ormskirk and women who are currently under-represented in sporting activities.

It will provide a range of informal, semi-structured, coached and semi-competitive activities using different areas of the campus. The project will also allow a network of student volunteers to be established to enhance long-term sports provision, maximise the sustainability of the project and provide essential skills which will help students gain employment on graduation.

Paul GreenwoodPaul Greenwood, Head of Sports Services at the University, said: “This Lottery funding means that we can provide a much wider variety of sporting opportunities for students of all ability levels, from those who want to take part occasionally just for fun to those who want to compete in teams against others. We are particularly keen to reach out to those less sporty to offer them a variety of sports activities in the hope that they can find something that they enjoy and increase their level of activity. By offering sessions at times and locations to suit students’ needsright across our amazing campus this will hopefully improve our students’ health & wellbeing and develop a lifelong sporting habit long after they finish studying.”

Currently just over half (52 per cent) of higher education students take part in sport at least once a week. The funding will support projects to not only maintain this level of participation but also increase it by trialling new methods of getting students into sport and offering a wider variety of opportunities to keep them playing sport during their time at university.

Sport England Director of Community Sport, Mike Diaper, said: “We know universities play a vital role in maintaining and growing a student’s love of sport. They can encourage them to continue playing once they’ve left school or help those less sporty discover a new sport. By investing in Edge Hill University we’re helping students develop a lifelong sporting habit while they study.”

Andy SmithProfessor Andy Smith, Associate head of sports studies and sports development at Edge Hill University added:

“We are particularly pleased that Sport England have recognised the University’s commitment to combining academic research with its excellent sports facilities and longstanding history of placing the student experience at the heart of everything it does to impact positively on students’ lives, and especially their participation in community sport and physical activity.

“Our successful application to the University Activation Fund also reflects the Department’s commitment to working with leading organisations and policy-makers, as well as the users and beneficiaries of its research, to make a meaningful and sustainable contribution to the promotion of other important social outcomes, most notably the promotion of health and wellbeing among individuals and communities. We look forward to working closely with Sport England over the next few years to help address their policy priorities in relation to student sport and community wellbeing.”

The latest funding for university sport builds on Sport England’s three year Active Universities programme which delivered a two per cent rise in the number of students playing sport regularly at the 41 university projects it invested in.