Friday, June 8, 2012

Working in Partnership with the Urdd - Kathryn Thomas

Sport Wales has today announced a landmark £250,000 investment into the Welsh language youth organisation, the Urdd, to ensure thousands more children and young people get hooked on sport for life. We hear from Sport Wales Senior Officer, Kathryn Thomas, who works closely with the Urdd's Sport Department.

The Urdd is the largest youth organisation in Wales with a growing membership of over 50,000. Sport Wales has worked in partnership with the Urdd over a number of years on their community sports programme, which has demonstrated excellent results and has highlighted the growing demand for sporting opportunities to be provided through the medium of Welsh.

In light of this, and with the recent launch of the sectors Community Sport Strategy with the aim of getting every child hooked on sport for life, Sport Wales strongly believe the Urdd is a significant partner in striving to achieve this end goal. With their growing network of Sports Development Officers, coaches and volunteers, over the forthcoming year opportunities of varying levels will be offered in each of the 22 local authorities across Wales.

The aim is to provide opportunities in a range of sports across all age groups. Sessions and clubs will be of varying standards to cater for all abilities, and the increased links with National Governing Bodies will ensure there are opportunities for youngsters to progress through the sporting pathway.

The targets set are very ambitious - 1300 volunteers and coaches to start up new clubs and develop new sections within existing clubs; the establishment of 60 new sport specific clubs and 68 new multi sport clubs – all of which are separate to the maintenance and sustainability of the existing clubs of which there is close to 100 in small pockets across Wales. There is also the 42,000 children and young people the Urdd want to engage through their competition structure.

As the officer working with the Urdd, I have seen first-hand how the Urdd works collaboratively with schools, local authority sports development teams and National Governing Bodies to create new opportunities that previously didn’t exist. Some consider the work of the Urdd as duplication however with clubs at capacity and frequent requests for additional sessions, there is clearly unmet demand.

The targets set for the forthcoming year are ambitious to say the least, but with the strong brand, the reputation to deliver, the experience, passion and knowledge of the staff, and the growing demand for the Welsh language they are sure to be achieved.