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Date published: 10th July 2018

Photo: A running event at a recent Sporting Centre of Excellence event at Gresham’s School

The ground-breaking Sporting Centre of Excellence (SCOE) scheme run by North Norfolk District Council has been guaranteed funding for a third year.

The unique and successful programme has already seen more than 150 young people attend coaching sessions during its first two years.

SCOE was set up with the aim of providing young people with top-quality coaching in endurance running, cricket, netball and hockey, and at excellent facilities. These children might not otherwise have had access to such good coaching or facilities.

Monday’s meeting of NNDC’s Cabinet heard that the first two years of the project had seen all the participants improve. All of North Norfolk’s secondary schools have been represented in the scheme, which uses the facilities at Gresham’s School, Holt. Sport England has hailed the project as being innovative and demonstrating best practice.

Many of the young people, aged 11-14, have subsequently been selected to represent Norfolk in their chosen sports, and some have competed at a national standard:

  • Ten athletes have been selected to represent Norfolk in cross-country, with one girl finishing third in the national cross-country championships, out of more than 400 competitors.
  • Three boys in the cricket programme have reached county standard and have been invited to the county squad and training sessions.
  • Most of the netball players have been invited to join high-standard netball teams.
  • One boy has been identified as being a naturally-gifted hockey goalkeeper. Specific goalkeeper coaching has been arranged for him and he has been invited to join a top Norfolk hockey club.

Cllr Becky Palmer, NNDC Portfolio Holder for Leisure, told the meeting: “It’s the only one in the country of its kind and I think it’s been a remarkable scheme over the two years that we’ve had so far.”

Cllr John Lee, Leader of NNDC and of the Conservative Group, added: “I have enjoyed presenting certificates to runners, cricketers, netball players and hockey players over the past couple of months since I became Leader. The vast majority of these children wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to use these facilities.”

The project was originally launched by former gymnast and Commonwealth Games gold-medal winner Craig Heap.

The Cabinet this week agreed to allocate funding of £20,000 towards the scheme’s third year.

After the meeting, Cllr Sarah Butikofer, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at NNDC, said: “I’m obviously delighted that the council has decided to continue to support this fantastic initiative, which helps so many of our young people to realise their sporting potential.”

Cllr John Rest, Leader of the Independent Group at NNDC, said: “It is perfect timing to secure funding for the sports stars and athletes of the future.”

Last updated: 10th July 2018