by Lewis Smith

A NUMBER of sports clubs across Bridgend county borough have been given a share of £74,000 worth of funding this month, to help them develop and grow  as part of the Bridgend Sports Support Fund.

Designed to support under-represented sports teams and disadvantaged groups, clubs that also include mini, junior and youth teams, have been able to apply for grants to help them encourage greater participation and growth.

The fund was also set up for such groups to purchase new equipment, as well as setting up match-funding to support some of their other initiatives.

In total 43 clubs have received a share of this year’s fund, which saw maximum grant levels for club development increase to £2,000 and asset developments rising to £3,500.

In addition to the sports support funding, a further 19 organisations received more than £53,500 to support their community asset transfer applications across a range of local facilities.

Councillor John Spanswick, Cabinet Member for Communities, said the money would help make a big difference in removing barriers to participation in a number of sports.

He said:

“Sports clubs have had to face significant challenges during the past 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it is fantastic to see how the Bridgend Sports Support Fund is making a real difference and is helping to remove barriers to participation, especially in under-represented sports.”

Commenting on the support, Tondu Cricket Club treasurer Margaret Matthews said:

“Due to the generous grant from Bridgend Sports Support Fund, Tondu Cricket Club have been able to accelerate their purchase of domed cricket wicket covers and bowler’s run up and side covers.

“This will make a huge difference to the club and maximise the playing opportunities for our own cricketers along with the other teams from across South Wales that use our facilities.

“Come match days, all our cricketers, regardless of their age, just want to get out on the pitch and play cricket, so imagine their frustration when a game can’t go ahead because the wicket and surrounding surfaces are wet or waterlogged due to the Great British weather.

“These new covers are highly manoeuvrable and each unit can be pushed on and off the pitch by one person, saving time and effort and keeping the wicket and surrounding areas as dry as possible enabling more games to safely go ahead.”

Another successful applicant to the fund was Karma Seas CIC, which specialises in providing accessible surf and beach activities for children and adults who might otherwise be excluded.

Founder Julia Thomas said:

“The award has enabled us to train a level two surf coach and purchase more progressive equipment, which has allowed us to create a development squad where girls can progress their skills through intermediate to competition level.

“As well as keeping teenage girls engaged with sport at an age when girls typically drop out, the development squad has not only re-enthused our intermediate level surfers, but also beginners who can now see a pathway to progressing their surfing in the same way as their male peers – as previously, there was no local initiative specifically aimed at progressing girls in surfing.

“The award has also allowed us to purchase a particularly large board with enough volume to accommodate larger participants, as we now run groups for ‘lads and dads’ and men with mental health issues, and to offer disabled participants a more progressive board for tandem surfing with an instructor. This provides them with similar opportunities to their able-bodied peers.”

Christopher Jeynes, chair of Mount Pleasant Group RDA which provides opportunities for disabled people to ride horses, said:

“Mount Pleasant Group RDA are very grateful to be supported with the Bridgend Sports Support Fund which has enabled us to employ a member of staff to be able to offer free coach-led sessions.

“These have enabled us to offer sessions without the need to ask for a financial contribution from parents who may otherwise not be able to afford to give our services a try.

“The juniors benefit from the physical and mental wellbeing of horse riding, horse care and mechanical horse riding for those who are less able-bodied or confident.”

By Gwynoro Jones

Former MP for Carmarthenshire, Gwynoro Jones joined the team covering politics in Wales. He has a wealth of experience in politics and has been a regular commentator on radio, TV and in newspapers in Wales. Email: gwynorojones@walesnewsonline.com

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