Call for Norfolk schools to help Olympic fitness boost

Concerns have been raised that attempts to use this summer's Olympic Games to encourage people to take up sport could be hampered because some of the county's sports facilities are outdated or off limits to the public.

At a time when two in 10 Norfolk adults and almost one in seven 10-year-olds are obese, council officers are keen that full advantage is taken of the golden opportunity the London Games will present to get people active.

A report drawn up by officers at Norfolk County Council and Active Norfolk, the county sports partnership, revealed the percentage of people in Norfolk who take part in at least three lots of half an hour of sport a week has also dipped from 20.4pc to 19.7pc.

The Olympics are seen as a way to get people thinking about sport and a series of projects are planned by Active Norfolk and the county council to encourage people to get involved.

But there is a concern the efforts could be undermined because there is an under-provision of sports facilities to meet current demand, some facilities are in a poor condition and, in some parts of Norfolk, there is a lack of access to pitches and equipment on school sites.

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Sport England is encouraging all secondary schools to throw open their doors so the community can use their pitches and equipment, with funding up for grabs to do so.

Laurie Hull, director of Active Norfolk, said there were opportunities for Norfolk to get extra funding to help improve access to sport.

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He said: 'There has always been an issue nationally, not just in Norfolk, about community access to school sites for a variety of reasons. 'Schools have developed over time and some of the old ones have not been designed for easy access by the public.

'There was a project a few years ago called the New Opportunities fund, which helped schools to develop facilities and some schools, such as Framingham Earl and Docking have been very on the ball about community access.

'But some schools are not so open and that's something which Sport England have picked up on. What we are not sure about yet is how much will be available or how it will be distributed.

'And there are always going to be some older schools where what is fine for a PE lesson is not appropriate for use by the wider public.'

He said Active Norfolk recently obtained 10 grants from Sport England covering water sports, tennis, hockey and cricket worth just short of �450,000 - with the county's record at getting funding through that scheme one of the best in the country.

A further �100m of funding is available and the report said there was 'considerable potential' for Norfolk to benefit further.

The County Village Games, where villages across the county are assembling squads of players to compete in different sports, is the main Olympic-themed event in Norfolk, the final of which will be held to coincide with the games in July.

A project called Fit4Work, which encourages health and fitness in the workplace, will culminate in the Fit4Work Corporate Games with an Olympic theme.

Young people are being encouraged to take up sport through the School Games scheme and projects called Sportivate and Sport Makers.

• Make sure you get the EDP and Evening News on Tuesday, February 28 for the next issue of our London Calling supplement, which features all the latest Olympic news from the region.

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