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New Balance Invests in Cumbria's Community Sports Workforce

July 16, 2014

Active Cumbria, The Sport and Physical Activity Partnership have teamed up with global athletic footwear and sports apparel brand New Balance to help get more people in Cumbria involved in sport.

New Balance, a brand with strong routes in Cumbria has long supported the work of Active Cumbria and the aim of getting more people physically active. New Balance employs over 200 people in West Cumbria at its factory based in Flimby, which produces over 28,000 pairs of trainers every week.  

In recent months New Balance Foundation International, based at the headquarters in Boston, USA has agreed to support Active Cumbria’s Sports Workforce Education Programme (SWEP).  Over the next three years the foundation will provide £60,000 to the education programme to help support the development of skills and increase qualification levels of those working and volunteering in sport across the county. Jon Ram, New Balance’s Vice President International said:

“For over 30 years, we have been committed to serving local communities through corporate outreach and foundation grants, associate volunteerism and product donations.  We are proud to join Active Cumbria in their efforts to engage children and the community helping them to find their movement spark.

We look forward to the positive impact this funding will make to the sports workforce across Cumbria.”

Liam Burns, EMEA Business Development Manager at New Balance said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Active Cumbria again, and are really excited about the difference that this funding will make to the sports workforce across the whole of Cumbria. The work that Active Cumbria do, and the successful partnerships they co-ordinate will really ensure that this funding will go as far as possible to addressing the skills gaps that currently exist across the sector.”

Active Cumbria are working with national governing bodies of sport to develop workforce development plans which will support the skill development and educational requirements for their coaches and volunteers supported by a Workforce Education bursary. The SWEP programme also provides a menu of educational courses covering coaching, volunteering, club development, development of officials as well as offering bespoke training courses to support the development of a vibrant network of community sports clubs across Cumbria.

Netball is one of the first sports to work with Active Cumbria on their workforce plan. The SWEP programme will help potential Netball Umpires access the training they need in Cumbria to deliver local courses and mentor other umpires in the county. This training will allow the sport to grow in terms of volunteer workforce and in participation as a direct result of being able to introduce new programmes into Cumbria such as Netball Now. Sonia Dryden Development Officer for England Netball said:

“Recruiting, training and retaining volunteers and players is key for our sport to ensure the County achieves is County wide plan and to help make our game thrive and grow. I’m delighted that a company of New Balance’s stature is supporting this programme with Active Cumbria and that netball in Cumbria has been fortunate to benefit from it.”

The SWEP programme is also working with Rugby Football League in Cumbria and will support the coaching requirements at 12 clubs Rugby Football League clubs across the county including Flimby RFL Club. The club will get support to develop the coaches involved with their Under 16 Youth team. Each Coach will be allocated a coach mentor to support them with the training, skills and knowledge to be able to transfer this young group into playing rugby league at adult level, creating lifelong participation, making the sport and its clubs more sustainable for years to come. Alan Davidson, Club and Competition Manager for Rugby Football League said:

“The opportunity for rugby league coaches to have mentor support and access to training that will help these coaches recruit and retain players is invaluable, the New Balance support will enable this to happen and I’m delighted that a company of New Balance’s stature is supporting this programme.”

A number of other sports including Triathlon have also started to work up plans to use support from the SWEP programme to enhance the skill set of their sports workforce in the county.

Richard Metcalf, Development Officer for Coaching at Active Cumbria said;

“For a number of years sports have highlighted skills gaps across the county in various volunteering roles. This injection of funding from New Balance has allowed Active Cumbria to allocate funds into the areas and sports where there is most need. Already, only 3 months into the first year we have allocated over £10k, to support 115 coaches and volunteers to achieve 218 qualifications, which will increase sports participation by over 2000 people up to April 2015”

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