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100 days to go

With the countdown on until the opening of the Commonwealth Games, Rebecca Anderson blogs about our plans to use the event to create a lasting impact on the people of the West Midlands.

19th April 2022

by Rebecca Anderson
Project manager, Sport England

With the year already flying by, it might be a surprise to many that as of today it’s officially 100 days until the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

With it already being an extraordinarily short turnaround for Birmingham and the West Midlands – after the decision to remove hosting responsibilities from Durban, South Africa – Birmingham has only had a four-and-a-half-year cycle to prepare for the sporting event, which will take place within the city and across the West Midlands from 28 July-8 August.

The Commonwealth Games has always been known as the ‘friendly games’ so in what has been, and continues to be, a difficult couple of years for many this is an opportunity to come together as a nation, to celebrate and to cheer on the incredible sporting talent from across the Commonwealth.

However, for us at Sport England, as like other previous major sporting events, it’s an opportunity to use sport and physical activity to transform lives and communities, making it accessible and available for everyone – no matter their background.

A legacy that helps to both develop the sporting talent of the future and to achieve the ambitions and commitment in our 10-year strategy – Uniting the Movement – to tackle inequalities, level up access and use sport and physical activity to help create more resilient, inclusive and connected communities is our driving ambition. 

That’s why our £35m legacy investment into the games is so exciting.

Para swimmer Ellie Simmonds holds up foam numbers spelling out 100 at Sandwell Aquatics Centre, marking 100 days to go until the start of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Back in November we officially launched our Commonwealth Active Communities programme – a place-based £3.1m investment into Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and the Black Country.

This programme picks up on local challenges and aims to bring partners together to find creative solutions to support people to get more active.

We’ve also invested £2.5m directly into the Sandwell Aquatics Centre to support much-needed improvements in sporting facilities for the community post-Games.

Alongside this investment we’re also supporting a number of local facility improvements/upgrades – including Wyndley Leisure Centre which, during the Games, will be an official training venue for hockey, triathlon, and para-triathlon, new facilities in Cannock Chase Forest to make cycling even more accessible and a new multi-use games area at Holford Drive in Birmingham, where work will start early this autumn.

Our most recent announcement last week, committed £600,000 to six West Midlands Active Partnerships. With National Lottery funding available to community organisations working to support individuals – particularly inactive people from underrepresented groups – find ways to be active.

We also announced an expansion to our Places and Spaces fund – moving it from a West Midlands focus to a national offer. This investment will put communities at the heart of local action, supporting people to move more on a daily basis, where they live. 

There’s no one-size fits all approach so, if we want this to be a lasting and meaningful legacy, we must ensure we cater our approach to address and meet local needs.

It’s an opportunity to use sport and physical activity to transform lives and communities, making it accessible and available for everyone – no matter their background.

One initiative in particular encompasses this approach. Our National Governing Body Participation, Innovation and Digital programme has really challenged both ourselves and stakeholders to think differently.

That's why we’re talking, but more importantly listening, to communities, grassroots organisations, local sports clubs, local volunteers and other partners to understand their priorities, what works and where investment is most needed.

More specifically, in terms of volunteering, we’re working with the six Active Partnerships across the West Midlands to develop local youth social action placements for young people who might not normally volunteer at a major event, to enable them to support their community and peers into sport and activity. 

We’re also investing in the next generation of talent to help develop coaches and athletes of the future – with a particular focus on talent from backgrounds that are historically under-represented, so the sport sector and our national teams better reflect modern British culture.

With a strong focus on young people, we’re extending our investment into the School Games this year to see even more children and young people get active.

This investment was officially kicked off in February with a live assembly in Liverpool, and this programme will help towards engaging with and encouraging more children to get involved in the School Games, offering a wider range of physical activity and providing extra resources for schools, alongside supporting the School Games National Finals to take place in September 2022.

Before that though, the Queen’s baton relay will land in England in June as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations – working its way around the country to arrive at the Alexandra Stadium on 28 July as part of the opening ceremony.

So, with 100 days to go and our legacy work in full swing, the Commonwealth Games bring with them the unique opportunity to both celebrate the now and build for the future.

We hope you’ll join us in looking forward to a great summer and, wherever you are, think about how you could maximise the opportunity the Games bring in your community this year.

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