A new junior Park Run and more rugby activities for schools, women and girls - capitalising on the sport's forthcoming 2015 World Cup in the city - are among the new initiatives in a five-year Manchester City Council plan to boost sports participation.
The 2014-2019 Major Sports Strategy will build on the city's impressive record of using high-profile events to create opportunities for residents to take part in organised sports.
Rugby Union has already received a boost in popularity after it was announced that Manchester City Stadium will host a Rugby World Cup match in October 2015. The Rugby Football Foundation is running its All Schools programme across the city, introducing children to the sport. The initiative has already seen many youngsters progress to become involved with local rugby clubs. The match will also see the creation of Rugby World Cup 2015 Young Ambassadors further raising the sport’s profile and participation.
October will also see the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester, the home of GB Taekwondo. Working alongside Sports England it is expected the city will have six strong Taekwondo clubs by the end of the year.
The Great Manchester Run is well established as Europe’s most popular 10km event and now features Great Local Run sessions as well as Great Manchester Mini and Junior Runs. Building on the success of the runs for young people a new Junior Park Run will be introduced in Platt Fields Park, Fallowfield. It is hoped the Junior Park Runs will attract 200 young people per run by the end of the year.
Manchester is synonymous with cycling boasting the National Cycle Centre, which has hosted both the BMX Supercross World Cup and Track Cycling World Cup. Some 44 schools used the cycle centre from 2012-2013 and it is expected this will rise to 55 for 2014-2015, with schools also taking advantage of the Clayton Vale mountain bike trail.
Increasing female participation is also a priority. Women only sessions have successfully been introduced at sports facilities, providing a less intimidating environment.
The Rugby World Cup will see the development of women and girls’ rugby clubs. Sky Ride, a traffic free cycle through the city centre, will seek to increase the number of women cycling regularly and feature female only local rides.
Us Girls, a national programme which receives funding form the National Lottery, has provided sporting opportunities for young women, aged between 16-25, in disadvantaged communities. Since its launch in 2011 the project has helped nearly 3,000 young women in Manchester become more active.
Following the success of the Paralympic World Cup (2005-2012) a series of initiatives have created sporting opportunities for disabled people.
Seven disabled sports clubs now exists, with 629 members, allowing young disabled people to take part in sport and socialise outside of school.
Debdale Sailing Centre is set to start a new disability club, after receiving funding from Sport England. BMX, basketball, tag rugby and gymnastics clubs are also being set up as part of the Ignite project, a new partnership between Manchester City Council and charity Access Sport.
Findings from Sports England’s national Active People Survey proved Manchester residents are already above the national average for participation in sport. The survey showed that 41.2 per cent of residents take part in at least 30 minutes of sport or recreational activity a week, the national average is 35.7 per cent.
These findings show a marked improvement across the city, the previous year only 35.5 per cent of people took part in sport per week, and the major events strategy will improve on the increased uptake.
Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester executive member for culture and leisure, said: “Manchester is globally renowned as a sporting destination. It is important that hosting these high calibre events not only raises the profile of the city but provides a lasting legacy for our residents.
“Our sports strategy creates a connection between national and international events and sports development, allowing us to develop constructive relationships with sports’ governing bodies and international federations.
“The improvement in people’s participation in sport shows this is a plan that really works and we are committed to building on its success and to removing any barriers than prevent people from participating in sport.”