Olympics boost for city sport venues as attendance soars

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PERHAPS inspired by the Olympics and the city’s own Jessica Ennis, more Sheffielders than ever before are taking part in sport, new figures have revealed.

Research carried out by Sheffield International Venues (SIV), which operates facilities including Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, the English Institute of Sport and iceSheffield, shows that attendance figures rose by 600,000 – from 4.5 million in 2011/12 to 5.1 million in 2012/13.

During the Olympic and Paralympic year, SIV reported a 53 per cent increase in people taking part in coached sports activities at its venues, with the figure increasing from 72,000 to 110,168 in the last year.

One of the biggest growth sports in the last 12 months is athletics, with attendances at SIV’s Athletics Academy more than tripling from 2,920 to 9,662.

An extra 11,714 people took part in iceSheffield’s “Skate UK Learn to Skate” programme in 2012/13; a record 20,000 people are now members of SIV’s Fitness Unlimited membership scheme and, last year, 269,315 people attended fitness classes – up from 186,000 in 2011.

Steve Brailey, chief executive of SIV, said: “These figures are reflective of the passion that Sheffield people have for sport and their own health and fitness.

“They also underline how we, as a company, are achieving our goals of accessibility and raising participation levels.

“As far as our research shows, the Olympics and Paralympics provided a platform for participation, from either a starting level or for people to improve.”

Meanwhile, Rotherham’s own world-famous football referee, Howard Webb, has been helping to encourage children in Sheffield to get involved in sport.

During the summer break from the Premier League, he took charge of a friendly game for Tinsley United.

The Tinsley United project started in April, with representatives from South Yorkshire Police, the youth service and Tinsley Forum, with the aim of “bringing local communities together through positive activities.”

The project is already attracting up to 40 children each week.

Mr Webb said: “Positive activities, such as football, can help to address social issues, prevent youth offending and reduce anti-social behaviour.”