Why Active Sports? Most young people develop an interest in a particular sport at school or through a youth group or club. Or it may be through the encouragement and enthusiasm of a relative or family friend. However it starts, their continued participation too often relies on the perseverance and commitment of a few key individuals – those people who invest considerable time and effort simply because they want to share their passion for sport. Our future as a sporting nation depends on the continuing involvement of these young people.

Sport England recognises that we need to do more to retain their interest and commitment, no matter whether they are girls or boys, where they come from, or what their level of ability. We’re also determined that Active Sports will make a positive difference to sports equity. That is why we have developed Active Sports.

What is Active Sports? Active Sports is a five-year development programme targeting ten sports. Building on current good practice within these sports, the programme’s main aim is to help young people get more from their involvement in sport. It is a coordinated, England-wide programme delivered at the local level. At its heart will be local sports clubs, the organisations that are so significant to the grass roots of sport in England. But as well as clubs, it involves local authorities, education services, schools and governing bodies of sport, all working in partnership to give young people local opportunities for participation, competition and skills improvement. Providing they have the interest, this programme will give young people easier access to club sport, and then help them improve to be the best that they want to be.

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How it works To help ensure a truly coordinated approach, Sport England is working with 45 Sports Partnerships that cover the whole country. Each Sports Partnership Area has a full-time dedicated manager. Ten of the nation’s most popular sports are involved in Active Sports:

* Athletics

* Basketball

* Cricket

* Girls’ Football

* Hockey

* Netball

* Rugby League

* Rugby Union

* Swimming

* Tennis

Each Sports Partnership will be in charge of the local delivery of Active Sports and will agree with Sport England which of these sports it wants to offer locally. It will also coordinate local resources and provide a range of services to help sports with their development and training programmes for coaches, volunteers and clubs. The Sports Partnership will ensure the activities are of the highest standards and that they are reaching young people in every part of its area.

These services may also be available to those of the ten sports not selected for that Partnership Area, and for other sports not being targeted by the programme. The Sports Partnership will set up an Action Group for each sport it selects. These Action Groups will be made up of people who have the local knowledge and expertise to make sure Active Sports works in their area and for their sport.Each Action Group will provide participation, competition and coaching opportunities, working to new development frameworks designed especially by the governing body of their sport. The activities for young people will be funded through the Sport England Lottery Fund and local sports agencies. Generally, the Active Sports programme consists of four stages.

Stage One Active Sports will provide new local opportunities for any young person who wants to be more involved in any of the sports selected for that area. This stage is aimed at attracting young people who are already participating in the sport through school PE programmes, extra-curricular activities, mini games, TOPs programmes, community programmes or youth clubs. The new opportunities will include coaching courses, or locally based competitions in festival or league formats, and will lead to young people joining clubs.

Stage Two At this stage local clubs and recognised venues will give young people opportunities to access structured quality coaching to improve their skills, gain skills awards, and enjoy the benefits of competitive play – allowing them to apply what they have learned whilst having fun. And no matter what their level of ability, all of them will be encouraged to achieve their personal best.

Stage Three This third stage concentrates on creating a fairer way to assess the abilities of those who want to take their involvement with the sport further. Young people may join directly at this stage, but it is more likely that the majority will already be benefiting from the coaching and competition opportunities available at Stage Two.

Stage Four Those young people identified at Stage Three as having ability and talent will be put into new development squads where their skills will be nurtured. Here they will enjoy the benefits of advanced coaching, and will receive help and guidance so that they can reach their own individual performance best. Many squad members will go on to participate at county and regional levels. The few with special talent may even join their governing body’s World Class or equivalent programme.

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