Sport is £1.1m worth of fun for students
Seven Westcountry colleges are to benefit from a £1.1 million initiative to recruit "sport makers" to improve opportunities over the next five years.
Twelve colleges in the South West, including Truro, Bridgwater, Petroc, South Devon, Exeter, City College Plymouth and Plymouth College of Art, will share 11 professionals after successfully bidding for support from Sport England.
Research shows around 65 per cent of school pupils aged 16 and over do sport at least once a week, compared with 53 per cent of higher education students and 50 per cent of college students.
Participation is lower among young women and the new staff will have a specific remit to ensure the sporting opportunities are attractive to young women and are marketed effectively to them.
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One of the roles will be at Exeter College, whose head of faculty for sport, leisure and tourism, Peter Chapman, said: "This is fantastic news for the students of Exeter College.
"The investment will enable us to make a huge difference in what we are able to provide for all of our learners."
The "sport makers" will be tasked with helping individual sports to market their opportunities to students as well as linking colleges with community sports clubs, running leagues and offering coaching for certain sports.
Sport England has also invited colleges across the country to bid for a share of £3 million of additional funding to improve the sport they're able to offer. Grants of between £30,000 and £150,000 will be offered to help colleges to run new sport projects.
Richard Lewis, chairman of Sport England, said: "Too many teenagers drop out of sport when they leave school, as it gets squeezed by competing demands like studying, work and relationships.
"We want sport makers to remind young people how much fun sport is and to help them build it into their schedules so they develop a sporting habit for life."
Maria Miller, secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, said: "Following the success and enthusiasm generated by the summer, I am determined to keep up the momentum of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and get more people playing sport.
"Raising participation levels among young people is absolutely crucial. This £20 million investment from the National Lottery will help do exactly that, getting more students in colleges up and down the country involved in sport.
"It will also create 150 new jobs, and these 'college sport makers' will make a real difference in helping young people develop a sporting habit for life."