SPORTS groups across Wearside and East Durham are being urged to help discover the Olympic heroes of the future.
Sported, a national sport development charity, is looking to support more groups with information, advice and grants to ensure that young people benefit from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy.
North East Regional Manager Sandra Hillyard said the success of Team GB has created a host of role models to inspire the next generation of sports stars.
Sported hopes it will lead to even more youngsters joining existing organisations, as well as the development of new groups to meet the demand.
“Sport has the power to develop young people both on and off the pitch,” she said. “A range of support is available, from grants to expand or start new activity, support to strengthen your organisation by improving planning, financial control, marketing, fund-raising and general development, and can even pair mentors with business skills and experience with groups to help them develop.”
Sported, which has free membership and services, supports not-for-profit organisations using sport or physical activity in disadvantaged communities to change lives, preventing crime and providing education in health and wellbeing.
Sandra said: “Sported has supported North East groups to start sessions for young people with additional support and integrate disabled players.
“I hope that more groups will be inspired to offer accessible opportunities as well as using sport to support young people and their communities in other ways, for example, providing opportunities for skills development and reducing anti-social behaviour.”
The long-running Lambton Street Youth Centre, in Falkland Road, Sunderland, hosts a range of sporting activities, including football, boxing, judo, circuit training, karate, basketball and netball.
Senior youth worker Nadine Baxter said: “We’re a Sported member and have been helped a lot by the group. It’s important that organisations like us make the most of the support that is available.
“We’re hoping to arrange a grant from them soon.”
Elsewhere, the Peterlee Pumas Rugby League club has also benefited from Sported support.
Treasurer Rob Laverick said: “They were a huge help in our project to get young people off the streets and involved in sport. It was a massive success and they played a part in that.”
Sported provides business resources and financial assistance to organisations, allowing them to concentrate on improving the lives of disadvantaged young people through sport. It uses a network of volunteer mentors to provide a range of services.
For information, visit www.sported.org.uk.