Greenwich Leisure, the council’s leisure and sports facilities contractor, has made awards to 84 young Croydon residents “to help them along their sporting journey”.
Grants of up to £500 – mostly in the form of free passes to public-owned facilities – are being given by the GLL Sport Foundation to the young sportspeople, who will also be able to use their grants towards physiotherapy, “lifestyle mentoring” and mental health support.
A ceremony was held at Ashburton Hall earlier this month to young rising stars who compete across a range of Olympic and Paralympic disciplines.
Among the award-winners is Emily Brunellesi, 14, from Waddon, who fences with the Fulham-based Dream Fencing Club. She is ranked No4 in the country for her age group. “When I started fencing, I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy the sport or that I would be selected to the England squad,” she said.
“I’m so proud of my achievement, but I have reached a point where I will need to regularly travel abroad to compete and improve my rankings.
“It would be my dream to make it onto the Great Britain cadet squad, however, the lack of funding for our sport means that my parents have to bear all the cost for equipment, training, travelling, accommodation and competition fees. I believe, with the right support, I have the determination to achieve great things and do my parents proud.”
Another award-winner is Joseph Ramdas, 14, is from Norwood, a member of the Allen Taekwando Academy, based in Thornton Heath. He trains six days a week with his club and has progressed to competing internationally. He said the award will help bring him closer to his dream of reaching British international status.
Olympic athletics gold medal-winner Sally Gunnell is a patron of the GLL Sport Foundation, and she explained the core role the foundation takes in supporting the next generation of athletes: “Sport is such an important element in our lives whether that be as an athlete, a coach or within the wide network of support, sport can and will continue to deliver so much for us.”
Peter Bundey, the chair of GSF, said: “The wealth of young sporting talent within our local communities is truly inspiring. We are delighted to play our part in supporting the development of sporting talent.
“We believe that the vast majority of the athletes that benefit from the GLL Sport Foundation will give something back to sport and society in a positive way; whether as a future champion inspiring the nation, sports coach, volunteer, fundraiser or as an inspirational role model to other young people to get active and involved in sport.”
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