Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Paralympics 'fail to boost clubs'

Figures showed clubs must 'change and adapt' to maximise the interest created by London 2012

Almost nine in ten (89%) sports clubs saw no change in the number of people with disabilities joining them in the months following the Paralympics, according to a new survey.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance, who commissioned the poll, said the figures showed clubs must "change and adapt" to maximise the interest created by London 2012.

But Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, strongly denied there had been no improvement on participation.

According to the poll of 475 sports clubs, 86% have noticed no change in the number of inquiries they have received from people with disabilities.

Although around half (49%) of the UK's sports clubs have suitable facilities for people with disabilities to participate in their activity, almost two-thirds (64%) do not have suitably trained staff and over three in five (61%) lack appropriate equipment.

When looking at all three factors together, fewer than one in four clubs (24%) have the suitable facilities, staff and equipment for people with disabilities to take part.

Andy Reed, chairman of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said: "After the most successful Paralympic Games ever which without doubt succeeded in its aim to inspire, our survey results suggest that this enthusiasm is yet to be felt so significantly at grassroots level.

"If the interest generated by the Paralympics is to be maximised and translated into reality, an increased awareness and a willingness from clubs to change and adapt to cater more for disability sport is key."

He added: "We all need to do our bit to create a more welcoming environment for disabled people in sport.

"After all, if their first experience at a club is a bad one, the chances are they won't return. We must not let this opportunity go untapped."

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