Working together to improve sports

This Is Wiltshire: Former Swindon Tigersharks swimmer Jazz Carling in action at a Wiltshire league swimming meet Former Swindon Tigersharks swimmer Jazz Carling in action at a Wiltshire league swimming meet

A NEW strategy for Swindon sets out how sport will progress over the next three years.

It has been developed by the council in partnership with the Swindon Sports Forum and Wiltshire And Swindon Sport.

The aim is to increase overall participation of sport in Swindon as well as finding more top talents who can go on to become professionals in their field.

A draft strategy was put together earlier this year before it went out to consultation where a number of individuals, teams and organisations had their say.

While many agreed with the overall principle, there were concerns about how sports should receive differing levels of support.

Initially there were going to be three tiers but this has now changed and several of the biggest sports in Swindon have been identified for an enhanced offer. These are football, swimming, ice sports, athletics and cycling.

An enhanced offer means they have the ability to meet key targets that are a benefit to the community.

Every other sport will receive a core offer – meaning they have the ability to meet some of the targets but are constrained by the number of people who take part.

Those behind the document have said it it will benefit the all sports in Swindon.

Dave Bell, the chairman of the Swindon Sports Forum, said: “Working with our partners we have a comprehensive document that has the potential to make a real difference to sporting outcomes in Swindon.

“This document represents a significant investment of time, energy and intellectual rigour to the problems of austerity.

“It has forced the agencies involved to consider how they can work together better, for the benefit of all sports, while coping with the challenges of the time using change as a springboard for opportunity rather than decline.”

The plan sets out six strategic themes which the sports must work towards. They are increasing participation, talent development, the local sports infra-structure, economic impact, social impact and demographic relevance.

The council has said that in these economic times the plan shows how working in a co-ordinated manner can help move sport forward in Swindon.

Coun Keith Williams (Con, Shaw), the cabinet member for leisure said: “This strategy recognises the tough economic climate we find ourselves in and demonstrates the difference that co-ordinated action can make by working intelligently with scarce resources. “The sporting landscape is largely co-ordinated on a national basis and so Swindon must compete for resources.

“For our part we will work to connect the national, the regional and the local sporting organisations so that all communities have the opportunity to benefit. “ But Mark Hows, the chairman of Esprit Gymnastics Club, was disappointed to find gymnastics did not make the cut after Swindon gymnasts were selected for the Commonwealth Games.

“If you read the council’s scoring criteria we came pretty much top,” he said. “We’ve got three people going to the Common-wealth games from this town and our head coach is going to be the head coach for the England team. “This a strategy and, like every other strategy, it will be shelved and no one will do anything about it.” The plan will go before the cabinet on Wednesday and they will be asked to formally adopt it.

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