Image: Sport for Life coaches with CWG Birmingham 2022 Roadshow, Central England Co-operative and LTA August 2021.
Building Character through Sport is a unique project that aims to bring down barriers to entry in sport and education that currently exist amongst communities in less advantaged areas of Birmingham. It builds on the very successful Sport for Life International (SFLI) model that uses the power of sport to create new opportunities for young people, especially girls, and their communities to play cricket, tennis and football to increase fitness levels, build mental health and to access quality sporting facilities and coaching.
After an extremely difficult year in which many young people in Birmingham communities have found it challenging to remain both positive and sustain regular physical activity, Building Character through Sport will invite young people to group coaching sessions in 22 locations in Birmingham between July 2021 and August 2022. Sessions will take place for more than 300 primary school children, hosted by highly qualified SFLI coaches from the local community with more than 10 years’ experience of working in primary and secondary schools as well as communities in east Birmingham. Trained by the England & Wales Cricket Board, the Lawn Tennis Association and the Football Association, SFLI coaches will also provide mentoring and support throughout the year managed by charity The Sport Legacy Foundation staff under Covid-19 guidelines.
The specialist coaching will include 22 skill drills in 3 sports with rewards given for most improved performance. Over the 12 months leading up the Commonwealth Games 2022, Building Character through Sport will also create 12 new coaches – 4 tennis, 4 cricket and 4 football – concentrating especially on girls in sport who will help drive awareness and growth of physical activity in all age groups within their communities.
In partnership with the National Asian Cricket Council (NACC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Building Character through Sport will also invite young people and their communities to ‘Conversations on Character through Sport’ with the Foundation’s new partners at the University of Birmingham Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues.
Our programme will develop with young people and their networks a series of events, or ‘campfire chats’ at Commonwealth Forest sites, including our new cricket and tennis centre in Yardley, where conversations will be invited on resilience, courage, kindness, leadership, patience, respect and self-control and how such characteristics are relevant to their hopes and aspirations. We hope that these conversations will be a catalyst for positive change in the new post-pandemic world.
Throughout 2021-22 the Building Character through Sport project will be developed alongside The Sport Legacy Foundation’s building of the new cricket and tennis facilities in Yardley, The Moeen Ali Sport for Life Centre, supported by the LTA, NACC and long term supporters Central England Co-operative. We hope that the Centre, which will inspire young people and their communities to visit both locally and from across the UK, will help put Birmingham on the map and attract teams from Commonwealth countries in years to come.
Central England Co-op Chief Executive Debbie Robinson: “It is an absolute pleasure to be able to sponsor such a wonderful event and I would like to thank Sport for Life for organising the day which I’m sure has proved to be an inspiration to all those young people taking part.
“The power of sport cannot be underestimated and at Central England Co-op we want to support young people to get active and discover the many benefits of playing sport, such as developing teamwork, building character and boosting mental and physical wellbeing.”
Claire Brown, Head of Midlands Region, Lawn Tennis Association: “The vision we have for tennis is seamless with the aims that Moeen Ali and Sport for Life have for Birmingham. We want to open tennis up to local communities whatever their motivation, ability or backgrounds to ensure that tennis is relevant, enjoyable and for any age across a whole lifetime.”
Moeen Ali, England international cricketer: “I am delighted to be helping Sport for Life develop this important area in cricket leading up to the Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 and to develop new facilities at the Sport for Life Centre.”
Jane Power, Chief Executive of the Sport Legacy Foundation: “Sport Legacy Foundation is delighted to have launched the first ‘Building Character through Sport’ event, a United By project endorsed by Birmingham 2022.
“We are grateful to the Organising Committee of Birmingham 2022 for endorsing us and look forward to the year ahead and to the Games in July and August 2022. Secondly, we plan to improve the facilities at Barrows Lane over the coming years and want to thank Central England Co-operative for their support and for kindly sponsoring the launch event.”
Shah Begum, Project Assistant to the Chairman of Birmingham 2022’s organising committee: “Since joining us as a United By project in mid-July, Sport Legacy Foundation and their coaching organisation Sport for Life have now launched their year-round programme Building Character through Sport. We are looking forward to working more closely with them to deliver the impact and legacy that we know Birmingham 2022 can provide to communities in Birmingham.”