With the help of National Lottery funding, thousands of grassroots sports workers and volunteers from local clubs and organisations across the UK, have been be able to continue to help the nation to remain active, happy and motivated during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes, many of which are supporting the most vulnerable in our communities across the UK during the Coronavirus crisis.
The National Lottery Dedicated To…campaign celebrates grassroots sporting heroes for their community spirit during 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are a couple of examples from Wales.
Vale Vipers look forward to future
It has been a really tough time for grassroots sport clubs. And we have all missed the opportunity to shoot hoops.
But thanks to the commitment and kindness of our volunteers, you are all making Basketball Wales very proud. This week, as part of the National Lottery’s Dedicated To…campaign, we are highlighting a coach who has helped keep players going throughout the pandemic.
Andrew Leftley is coach of the Vale Vipers, home to 100 players across Barry and Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan. He created the club, has secured National Lottery funding and heads up the coaching:
“We don’t want to be a powerhouse club or an Academy. We are a community club and we are passionate about providing local opportunities. Our youngest player is eight and our oldest is in their mid-twenties so we cover a fairly broad age-group.”
Despite lockdown earlier this year, Andrew was quick to replace court time with Zoom time:
“We ran quizzes and it was really just a chance to talk, not just about basketball. We did run technical sessions but we also discussed wellbeing and leadership. It was pretty holistic.”
In an ordinary, Covid-free year, the club would have marked its tenth anniversary in September. The celebrations may be on hold but work behind the scenes to develop the club have forged on:
“I have been a one-man band organising the club until recently but I knew that to develop the club we need more people on board so this summer we recruited various roles such as club secretary and treasurer and we agreed it all at an online meeting.”
Sorting out the club’s governance structures has not been the only job ticked off on the To Do list. An Under 18 girls’ programme has also been launched.
And in October, players were back on court:
“We have trained Covid-19 officers, there are protocols in place and risk assessments have been signed off. We knew we couldn’t go from zero to hero straight away so we did catch up sessions with each age-group which gave us a chance to ease back into things and chat about our experiences in lockdown. We are taking one step at a time.”
The club secured almost £2500 of National Lottery funding from the Sport Wales Be Active Wales Fund. It has been ploughed into PPE and sanitisers. Players were also given a basketball each so they could hone their skills at home and avoid ball-sharing at training.
“Some of our players live in deprived areas and just don’t have the budget to go out and buy a decent basketball.
“We lost around £2000 due to lockdown so part of the funding is recouping that loss and is being invested into court hire,” says Andrew. “The impact of the National Lottery has been huge. There was a point where I thought we would not recover and survive. Without the funding from the National Lottery, 2021-2022 would have been extremely difficult. It helps massively and we are really grateful for the support.
Inclusive basketball club earns National Lottery funding and spotlight
Lee Coulson is based in Ceredigion. He coaches Aberystwyth Basketball Club which is an inclusive club catering for all ages and abilities and includes a wheelchair team. He coaches the Wales Special Olympics Basketball team and also heads up two inclusive multi-sport clubs – The Mighty Ducks Disability Sports Club in Aberystwyth and The Lions (Y Llewod) Disability Sports Club in Cardigan. Both clubs cater for disabled children and young people between the ages of four and 17 as well as their siblings.
From quizzes and chats to interviewing players and singing Baby Shark, Lee has been a firm fixture at his computer screen, making the most of video technology to keep in touch with his many club members. As we speak to Lee, he has just finished leading a scavenger hunt for the Llewod and Mighty Ducks.
Its no mean feat for just one man but he is keen to point out that others have helped. Special Olympics team member Wil Davey has led technical skill sessions and uploaded videos.
Quick to embrace technology, Aberystwyth Basketball Club successfully applied for a £7,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund in July to run virtual activity sessions. Having suffered from anxiety himself, Lee is all too aware that the mental and physical wellbeing of players, many of them who have been shielding, might be affected.
The club is also in the final stages of securing a further £700 of National Lottery funding from the Sport Wales Be Active Wales Fund to invest in facility hire once the clubs can start back up again:
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all National Lottery players. The funding has a huge positive effect on people of all ages. The difference it makes to mental health and wellbeing is priceless. The impact it has is hard to put into words but you cannot put a price on it.”