Tony Blair's 'gift to the North East' closes down after a decade

Tony Blair shows his footballing skills at the launch of the Coaches for Clubs campaign at Castle View Enterprise Academy in 2011.
Tony Blair shows his footballing skills at the launch of the Coaches for Clubs campaign at Castle View Enterprise Academy in 2011.
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The Tony Blair Sports Foundation, which was set up 10 years ago as a gift to the North East, has closed down.

The ex-prime minister set the body up to boost the number of coaches working with children in the North East across a range of sports.

The former Prime Minister visited Sunderland a number of times to promote the foundation, including bringing tennis star Greg Rusedski to the Sunderland Tennis Centre, where the pair played against each other as well as a youngsters.

After putting in £700,000 and raising further funds, Mr Blair said it had recruited, trained and placed 6,132 coaches with clubs.

He said: "When I stood down as MP for Sedgefield, I wanted to repay the kindness, generosity and support given to me by the people in the constituency and the wider region.

"That is why I decided to set up and personally finance the Sports Foundation.

"From its early beginnings 10 years ago, even though we were ambitious for the organisation, I could not have predicted that it would turn out to be the amazing success that it has been."

Mr Blair said the foundation had "reached the end of its natural life" and his focus was now on his Institute for Global Change.

Record-breaking athlete Steve Cram said: "The Foundation leaves behind a strong platform for others to follow - and even though it's come to the end of its path, many of those whom it has helped will continue to work in sport volunteering and leadership for many years to come."