Express & Star

Mayor sees benefit to clubs of Games equipment donations

Equipment used by elite athletes at last year’s Commonwealth Games has been helping grassroots groups give more sporting chances to young people across the West Midlands.

Andy Street poses with Luis Enache from Heath Town, Councillor Chris Burden, coach Kameron Bains and The Way CEO Jackie Redding

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street paid a visit to The Way Youth Zone in Wolverhampton and Oldbury Academy Olympic Weightlifting Club to kick off his one-year Games anniversary tour of the region to see how communities are benefitting from the legacy.

Around 300 sport and community groups shared 16,000 pieces of sports equipment used by teams and athletes as part of the kit give-away by Sport England, the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee and the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport (DCMS).

In Wolverhampton, the Mayor was given a boxing and mixed martial arts demonstration by members of The Way Youth Zone’s boxing club, who received a donation of boxing gloves, buckets, gauze, gym tape and ice bags.

Andy Street chats to coach Darryl Chambers at the Way Youth Zone

Mr Street also visited Oldbury Academy Olympic Weightlifting Club, which is working with British Weight Lifting and benefitted from competition-standard Olympic bars and powerlifting discs and its facilities being refurbished.

Mr Street said said: “I was determined that after securing the Commonwealth Games our region would see a tangible legacy for the months and years to come.

"That’s why it was so brilliant to visit both The Way Youth Zone in Wolverhampton and Oldbury Academy Olympic Weightlifting Club to see how the equipment give-away is helping to deliver that legacy and provide quality sporting opportunities to young people.

“The equipment we gave away to these two fantastic clubs is just a small part of the 16,000 pieces given out to almost 300 local sport and community groups across the West Midlands since the end of the Games.

"We hope this equipment will encourage more people into sport, which we know helps improve both physical and mental health.

Andy Street gets in a lift with Oldbury Academy PE teacher Alex Houlders, chair of governors Sally Harvey, Sam Hayer (gym manager and Olympic weightlifting coach), headteacher Philip Shackleton, Sally Boden (head of PE), and Hannah Bussey (sport development manager at British Weight Lifting).

“This equipment giveaway is on top of the £70million investment we are making in the West Midlands through the Legacy Enhancement Fund, born out of the underspend on the Commonwealth Games budget.

"We are determined to ensure as many people as possible feel a long-lasting benefit from what was an incredible summer last year.”

Jackie Redding, CEO at The Way Youth Zone, said: “We are so grateful for this donation of much needed equipment.

"Since the beginning of the year, we have had over 350 young people in our Youth Zone take part in our daily boxing sessions.

“The arrival of signed boxing equipment from Commonwealth medal winners has been met with excitement and inspiration by our young people.

Andy Street takes part in some sparring practice with coach Kameron Bains

"The equipment has given us the opportunity to train more young people, and the signed memorabilia has added a 'wow factor' to our sessions.”

Sam Hayer, lead coach at Oldbury Academy Olympic Weightlifting Club, said: “Getting this equipment has opened the doors to more people participating in the sport.

"We want to do more than produce athletes, we’re going to produce more referees, more technical officials, and as a club be more involved in the sport I love.”

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