Thousands of Coventry residents are more physically and mentally active thanks to two community-led initiatives that are helping to deliver the legacy from the Commonwealth Games

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has visited Coventry Moves and Guardian Ballers as part of a tour of the region one year on from the Games to see how communities are benefitting from last summer’s sporting spectacle.

Coventry Moves is one of four Sport England-funded Commonwealth Active Communities (CAC) set up in the West Midlands to draw inspiration from the Games to tackle inactivity. It has brought 5,500 local people together for activities in public spaces and care homes across the city.

The Coventry-based Guardian Ballers are now able to run more basketball and other educational sessions thanks to the Games equipment used by elite athletes that they received through the Commonwealth Games kit giveaway run by Sport England, the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee and the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport (DCMS).

Since forming in 2021, the Ballers have helped improve the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of almost 4,000 young people.

Mayor Andy Street with (left to right) Andy Williams, director of business and investment at Coventry City Council, Marshall Lynch, Coventry councillors Gurdev Hayre and Kamran Caan, Guardian Ballers founder and CEO Kieran Joseph, David Agboola, Ken Mason, Abbie Clarke, Okafor Munachimyi, Wendy Jackson, community development manager for CV Life

A new partnership between the WMCA and Sport England is aiming to build on the success of groups like Coventry Moves and Guardian Ballers by providing grants and other support to more community-led sports initiatives that make it easier for people to take part in exercise or play sport more frequently.

Cllr Kamran Caan, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for public health and sport, said: “It was great to celebrate the Commonwealth Games legacy funding that we have received in Coventry, allowing us to inspire community members through our Coventry Moves programme, and Sporting Memories sessions that target the older generation and increase their socialisation and physical activity.


“It’s such an important legacy, and not only has the funding supported the older generation, but young people are benefitting from the legacy funding too through our Go Parks programme that has seen thousands of young people being active in their local green space.


“Guardian Ballers were one of Coventry’s kit beneficiaries which means that young and vulnerable people have had the chance to use the same kit that sporting stars used during Games time. The sessions tackle both physical and mental health which is crucial, all while giving the youngsters the opportunity to use this fantastic kit and be inspired by the Games.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Coventry Moves and Guardian Ballers are wonderful examples of a tangible sporting legacy following on from last summer’s Commonwealth Games.


“I was determined to deliver a lasting impact for our region – including Coventry – proving the positive impact that getting active and meeting new people can have on our overall physical and mental health.


“That’s why I enjoyed speaking with people who are now coming together as part of the Sporting Memories initiative to reminisce with others about the city’s sporting heritage, and to see how young people from the Guardian Ballers are using the same equipment used by elite athletes to stay fit and expand their friendship circles.


“Our Legacy Enhancement Fund – combined with additional investment from Sport England – will create even more opportunities for local people to get more active in their own communities and help address historic health inequalities that persist in our region.”

Coventry Moves was established by Coventry City Council and its partners, with CV Life delivering the activities at various locations across the city.

During the Mayor’s visit to The Alan Higgs Centre, he met local people who come together as part of monthly Sporting Memories sessions that provide the over 50s with opportunities to reminisce, replay and reconnect through the power of sport and physical activity.

The West Midlands has some of the highest rates of inactivity in England.

As part of a new partnership announced in July, the WMCA and Sport England will identify and work with groups in the West Midlands that are least active in support of the shared goal of reducing the historic health inequalities that are highlighted in the WMCA’s Health of the Region report and the recently published West Midlands Mental Health Commission report.

The WMCA’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund has been established because of the effective organisation and delivery of the Games last summer which meant the event came in under budget.

Following discussions with the Mayor and the WMCA, the UK Government agreed to invest the £70 million underspend back into the region to enhance the legacy of the Games and ensure the benefits continue their positive impact for years to come.

Ken Mason, a regular at the Sporting Memories sessions, said: “I’ve been going for the past eight months and I really love listening to the stories of those who have had a career in sports. I’ve met a lot of people of my age, including some who I already knew but hadn’t seen for a long time. I’d say to anyone considering joining the sessions, come and listen to the stories, they really bring back memories and makes you feel so good, newcomers will quickly make new friends.”

The Guardian Ballers were set up by Kieran Joseph in partnership with Coventry and Warwickshire Mind, and last year they began working with even more young people thanks to Games legacy support and equipment used by players in the 3×3 basketball competition.

Fifteen-year-old Abbie Clarke has been with Guardian Ballers for the past year and has also embraced opportunities to be a young leader in the programme.


She said: “It’s a really good place to be and since joining I’ve made loads of new friends, I’ve learned how to socialise better, and take my mind off things while playing basketball. That’s helped my mental and physical health, which is what the Guardian Ballers is all about and I’d recommend it to anyone.”

The West Midlands has some of the highest rates of inactivity in England.

The WMCA’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund has been established because of the effective organisation and delivery of the Games last summer which meant the event came in under budget.

Following discussions with the Mayor and the WMCA, the UK Government agreed to invest the £70 million underspend back into the region to enhance the legacy of the Games and ensure the benefits continue their positive impact for years to come.





Source link