The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has today announced a
£1 million ($1.7 million/€1.3 million) investment in the provision of free sporting activities across the British capital as part of a programme launched in partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain.
An initial cash injection of £500,000 ($850,000/€631,000) will be pumped into the FreeSport campaign over the next two years and Coca-Cola has promised to match this figure.
Authorities claim this new investment will allow around 34,000 people of all ages and abilities to access free sporting activities and provide grants for around 600 sports clubs and organisations in the capital.
Launched in 2009 as part of the £22.5 million ($38 million/€28 million) Mayor's Sports Legacy Programme in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, FreeSport allows sports clubs, organisations, youth groups and community groups to apply for grants of up to £1,500 ($2,540/€1892) to run free activities for Londoners, of all ages and abilities, to encourage more people to try sports.
Since then, organisers of the Freesport programme claim it has engaged around 60,000 people and benefitted from £900,000 ($1.5 million/€1.1 million) in financial support.
"FreeSport has been incredibly popular since it launched in 2009, giving thousands of people the chance to develop a sporting habit that will stay with them for life," said Johnson.
"This fantastic investment means that we will be able to help tens of thousands more Londoners to get active, try something new and lead healthier lifestyles.
"Whatever your age or ability, there is bound to be a sport or activity to suit, so give it a go."
Earlier this month, FreeSport said it awarded 160 sports clubs and organisations a total of £200,000 ($340,000/€252,000) in its latest round of funding.
It says the launch of today's scheme will specifically target those who traditionally are less likely to engage in sport, including women, the elderly, and black and minority ethnic groups.
Harrow Squash Club in north-west London is one of the clubs to recently benefit from a £1,021 ($1,700/€1,300) grant from Freesport.
"The grant will allow us to start a new programme on Tuesdays and Thursdays that will look to attract adults who are not particularly active in sport," said the club's head coach Tony Morrison.
"We will be providing instructors and guidance and we cannot wait to get started."
Today's announcement by Johnson was made at Stratford Park in Newham, close to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, marking the start of the Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives initiative which will provide 3,500 hours of free activity sessions across the borough this summer.
"We want to inspire people to get active in a fun and engaging way that fits in with their life," said general manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain, Jon Woods.
"Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives and the FreeSport programme encourage people of all ages to try something new and take part in physical activities that are free, fun and sociable.
"Nationally we want to get one million people moving by 2020 by working in partnership with others."
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