Sport Wales’ ‘Vision For Sport’ Gets £5m Launch Boost

The runners lead out from the start of the Swansea Half Marathon. Pic: Owen Morgan.

Sport Wales’ ‘Vision For Sport’ Gets £5m Launch Boost

Sport Wales’ new ‘Vision for Sport in Wales’ is launched today alongside a very welcome boost of £5m of new funding from the Welsh Government.

A new ‘Health and Active Fund’, a partnership between Sport Wales, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales, has been set-up to support schemes over the next three years to get more people involved in physical activity.

At last, it appears, there is some real joined-up thinking between the various bodies that are involved in fitness and health in Wales and the new collective approach is aimed at trying to improve the physical and mental well-being of the nation.

With 48% of people in the UK predicted to be ranked in the obese category by 2045 this is a direct move to bring the relevant bodies much closer together in their thoughts and deeds.

The first phase of the new investment will focus on improving physical activity levels, encouraging solutions to take advantage of collaboration, existing community assets such as clubs, schools and workplaces, and new technology. Groups will be able to apply for assistance from this Autumn.

The announcement of the extra-funding by the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas, comes at the same time as Sport Wales chair Lawrence Conway launches his new ‘Vision for Sport in Wales’

The new vision focuses on encouraging an active lifestyle and a lifelong participation in sport through a wider range of enjoyable and accessible experiences and comes after a Wales-wide public conversation.

“It was refreshing to speak to so many people across Wales about their views on sport, being active and how they are inspired by the success of those competing at the highest levels,” said the recently reappointed Sport Wales chair, Conway..

“A consistent message was that the people’s experience of sporting activity was vitally important – the fun and enjoyment aspects being central to whether people would want to come back or carry on being active.

“The sporting offer needs to be engaging and varied, with the informal and less competitive versions being important for those who may not see themselves as sporty.

“The collective approach to getting people participating will also be vital and the partnership we’ve developed with Public Health Wales is a positive step in bringing this vision to life.”

Tackling the obesity crisis that is not merely looming, but very much in evidence across the ages here in Wales is a strong motivating factor for Conway and his team. It is also an issue that the health agencies in Wales are keen to address in order to ease the burden on the NHS.

“Becoming healthy and active should not feel like an ordeal or something to be apprehensive about. It should be something that is fun, open to everyone and a way for people, families and communities to come together,” said Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething.

“I look forward to the first projects supported by the Fund being up and running early next year, delivering innovative solutions and making a real contribution to the health and well-being of people across Wales.”

With cross-agency backing, and some financial backing, there is a real opportunity for sporting clubs and groups throughout Wales to make a real difference over the next three years. That is certainly the wish of Lord Ellis Thomas.

“I’ve been very clear that one of my primary priorities as Minister is to improve accessibility across all aspects of my portfolio. Nowhere is this more important that in sport, where making it as easy as possible for people from across Wales to enjoy the benefits of physical activity comes with enormous, cross cutting benefits,” he said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to recently witness some outstanding projects which are seeing individuals from all backgrounds get more involved with sport, some for the first time. Through continuing to work together towards a common goal of making sport as accessible and enjoyable as possible I’m optimistic that we can build on these successes and further increase participation.

“This new fund, alongside a refreshed vision for the future, will look to facilitate just that and I very much look forward to seeing it help deliver a healthier, more active Wales for us all.”

His sentiments are wholeheartedly backed by Dr Chrissie Pickin, Executive Director for Health and Wellbeing at Public Health Wales. She believes too many people in communities across Wales are living in poor health as a result of conditions such as cancer, heart disease and bone and joint problems.

“Being inactive is a risk factor for all of these conditions. Helping us incorporate physical activity into our daily lives is one of the best ways we can both prevent and improve some of these conditions, as well as helping us feel good,” said Dr Pickin.

“The Healthy and Active Fund is a welcome boost to help our communities become more active, no matter what activity you choose, where you live or how much money you have.”

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