A host of celebrities from the world of sport heaped praise on Clive Knight, a tennis coach at Oswestry Team Tennis, at a House of Lords Reception on Wednesday.
The event saw Clive recognised as a Community Champion by Barclays Spaces for Sports and the Football Foundation for his outstanding contribution to sport in Oswestry, Shropshire.
The Reception was hosted by talkSPORT presenter Georgie Bingham and saw former footballer and Football Foundation Ambassador Dion Dublin lead a panel discussion on the importance of local, quality sports facilities.
Dion was joined by former England boss Graham Taylor, Southamptons FA Cup-winning Manager Lawrie McMenemy, ex-Wimbledon, Liverpool and Spurs defender John Scales and talkSPORT presenter Georgie Bingham in lauding praise on Community Champion Clive, who was selected to represent the hundreds of people, over half of which are volunteers, who make a particularly significant contribution to their local Barclays Spaces for Sports facility.
Clives primary role at Oswestry Team Tennis is as a coach, a position he has held since the clubs inception in 2006. He coaches boys, girls, men and women of various ages and he has even seen a number of his younger protges go on to have careers in professional tennis, either as players or coaches.
Clive has also taken on a variety of extra responsibilities during his time at the club including the role of trustee, club treasurer and head of funding applications. The club is the only junior tennis club in Shropshire and regularly sees more than 200 children use the facility every weekend. The club also delivers tennis session at Derwen College, a local school for children with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Since 2004 Oswestry Team Tennis has received 76,000 worth of grants towards renovating and refurbishing their tennis courts. Prior to investment from Barclays Spaces for Sports and the Football Foundation, the sand-dressed courts at the site were in need of an upgrade to keep up with the rising demand for tennis in the area.
Barclays Spaces for Sports is the UKs largest ever sports-based corporate social responsibility programme. Launched in 2004 it saw international bank Barclays partner with the Football Foundation to develop 204 multi-sports sites in disadvantaged communities right across the country.
The investment in the Barclays Spaces for Sports facilities programme in the UK was 67m. The sites built as a result play host to more than 30 different kinds of sport and are used by over 88,000 people every week with participation, not sporting excellence, the key ethos.
The Foundations Grant Managers have worked with every site to produce a Sustainability Plan. This incorporates a business plan to ensure sufficient revenue to run the site, without having to rely on local authority or any other subsidy and also a sports development plan to ensure the facility is used to its maximum. Now, more than 75% of the facilities are long-term financially sustainable.
Clive said: Being at the House of Commons for this Barclays Spaces for Sport celebratory event was a brilliant experience. Thanks to Barclays and the Football Foundations investment at the Cae Glas Park site, Oswestry Team Tennis which is a community club based in Cae Glas Park, has turned a handful of junior tennis players at its start up in 2006 into 200 weekly junior participants currently now attending.
It has also grown its outreach programme to include the annual Oswestry Community Games also held in Cae Glas Park involving many other local sports and arts organisations, and is also setting up a Crown bowls section. Thanks to a skilled and hardworking volunteer and coaching workforce, we have developed the club in a very positive way, and it is therefore pleasing to report that we are financially self-sustainable. It was therefore great to be able to represent the club at this event and celebrate its successes over the last ten years.
Paulette Cohen, Director, Global Programmes at Barclays, said: Support from volunteers within the community has been, and will continue to be, key to the success of all our Barclays Spaces for Sports sites. Thanks to the hard work of Clive hundreds of other people who help run our facilities, more than 200 sites are providing people of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to build their skills and fulfil their potential.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of The Football Foundation, said: For the last 11 years the Football Foundation has delivered the Barclays Spaces for Sport Programme. This Reception was a chance to demonstrate how our partnership with Barclays has delivered sports facilities that are financially sustainable throughout their usable life, so that they do not require local authority or any other subsidy to maintain them.
A key element of ensuring that these facilities remain sustainable are the volunteers who manage them. Every day hundreds of volunteers give up their time to run these facilities on behalf of their communities, and for this they all deserve huge credit and our appreciation and thanks. Clive is a worthy recipient of the Community Champion accolade. He epitomises the tireless work invested by volunteers up and down the country to ensure that local communities have access to quality sports facilities, not just today, but also for years to come.
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