The Great North run was dreamed-up by Brendan Foster after he was competing in New Zealand
The former long distance running ace says he has seen over the course of his lifetime the crucial role sport plays in improving all aspects of our society but points to the massive discrepancy between the huge riches which engulfs much of the “entertainment side” of sport in contrast those who work with children and people from disadvantaged backgrounds and are left feeding on scraps.
Even football with its billion-pound tv deals relies on volunteer parents to coach children and with other lower profile sports, the situation is even more reliant throughout the pyramid to elite level.
But now in an attempt to tackle the funding discrepancy a unique link up between the Made by Sport charity and The Great North Run will help celebrate the event’s 40th birthday this September in style with a huge awareness campaign.
It has been created to support the vital work of community sports organisations across the UK.
It aims to champion the power sport has to change lives and raise £40m in additional funds for organisations using sport to transform the lives of young people in the UK over the next four years.
Brendan Foster is congratulated
Made By Sport is aiming to raise a significant sum through its partnership with GNR40, as the campaign teams up with this landmark moment for the world’s most iconic Half Marathon, to use the power of sport to change the lives of young people in the area.
That money will stay in the North East to support those local organisations who are using the power of sport to change young lives, targeted at some of the most disadvantaged areas of the region.
The Great North run was dreamed-up by Mr Foster after he was competing in New Zealand and saw a community fun run being staged which started in the city and finished at the beach.
He returned home determined to stage something similar and his vision created one of the world’s most iconic half marathons.
Over its four-decade history an astonishing half a billion pounds has been raised for good causes but Mr Foster, 72 says grassroots sports has always suffered in raising cash comparison to charities operating in the health sector such as hospices.
Last year individuals raised around £25m and he wants to bring these under the Made By Sport umbrella to co-ordinate the fundraising.
And as an added incentive Sport England has promised to match fund the total raised pound for pound.
Mr Foster said: “With all the health concerns and obesity crisis that we have in the country I’m afraid sport at a grassroots level has always been at the back of the queue.
“But if it wasn’t for participation at this level then we would never create either the elite athletes or give people a lifelong love of participating. It needs to stop being the poor relation because it is so essential to the nation’s health.”
Made By Sport have signed up to a four-year campaign to support the vital work of community sports organisations across the UK.
They say this will champion the power sport has to change lives and raise £40m in additional funds for organisations helping transform the lives of young people in the UK.
Mr Foster added: “As a boy growing up on Tyneside all I wanting was play centre forward for Newcastle United.
Brendan Foster was a champion athlete
But it was a teacher at school who suggested I should give running a go so I went to Jarrow and Hebburn Athletics Club and then Gateshead Harriers.
“All of these organisations were run by volunteers, and what we didn’t realise at the time, was that they were not just providing us with coaching but a network of roots that would allow us to go beyond where we ever thought we would be.
“I went on to run in the Olympics and I can’t imagine a scenario where I could have progressed my career the way I did without the help and support of volunteers and grassroots clubs, people who drove us to fixtures and competitions, supported and encouraged us and gave up their own time, all for the love of sport.
“Sport requires application, dedication and perseverance. You commit hours to practising it and thinking about it, it teaches you that in order to be successful in anything you do, you have to be disciplined and apply yourself and you have to have some vision of where you want to go.
Sport gives you the mental framework to visualise success. What do I want to do? What do I need to do to achieve it? How am I going to get there?”
The first Great North Run was held in 1981 and is now the biggest mass participation sports event in the UK.
Last year 57,000 people registered to tackle the 13.1-mile course from Newcastle to South Shields.
Mr Foster added: “The role that sport has to play in the lives of young people is more vital now than ever.
“Four million young people in the UK are living in poverty and that social mobility has stalled – meaning those from disadvantaged communities have fewer opportunities to progress in life.
“Sport provides skills that make a difference at school, at work and in life – lessons learnt on the track and playing field echo well beyond those boundaries.
“Indeed, sports participation and being active are shown to have a positive impact on confidence, resilience, communication and teamwork which in turn impact on educational attainment and employability – giving young people a sense of community and purpose.”
Live link for the online team is https://www.madebysport.com/great-north-run/join-our-team
Josh Kirby says Sporting Chance changed his life after he became a young father
Josh Kirby was 17 when he joined Sporting Chance after his girlfriend fell pregnant.
After receiving a message from an old teacher, Stephen Hutchinson, who works as an education tutor at Sporting Chance in Newcastle – which is supported by Made By Sport – Josh seized the opportunity to get his life on track.
He has now been able to resit his GCSE English and Maths and has studied a sports leadership course.
Seen as an alternative route into education, the project holds more of a relaxed environment to help the young adults with their behavioural issues.
The 19-year-old said: “Before Sporting Chance I was doing nothing and looking for a job.
“When I first started I wasn’t going through the best of times as I severally suffered from anxiety and depression and it didn’t help with being a young parent to my daughter.
“They helped me to keep my mind off it by doing exercise and re-siting my qualifications. I came here and forget everything else it was like a retreat for me.”
The project opened doors for Josh to go on work placements, which led to him his getting his first job in McDonald’s.
Now working at the Clip and Climb in the Metro Centre, Josh is now progressing towards a career in health and fitness which he is passionate about.
Reahana Gordon was brought up by her single mother in Kennington, south London, but life as a young schoolgirl proved a struggle until she began boxing at the Black Princess Trust with Fight 4 Change almost 10 years ago.
She said: “I didn’t start boxing with the idea of it being a permanent thing, it began just for fun but with time I realised how much confidence and discipline comes from boxing, I fell in love!
“Boxing has provided me with the opportunity to address my emotions and feelings properly. It has helped me review the positives and negatives you experience as a young person and provided me with the means to let go of the negatives in a beneficial way, rather than falling back on negative habits/traits, and praise the positive in a fun and healthy way!”
Reahana says while contemporaries hang around on street corners the gym has become her “second home” and describes the coaches as her “second parents”.
She added: “Alongside teaching me boxing skills, they have taught me some of the many important life skill.
“Not many young people are lucky enough to understand how sports can benefit your home life and personality, but I had people around me reminding me of this 24/7 and it has honestly helped me steer a happier and better life for myself.”
Foster child Charlie Glass, 18, from Newcastle, struggles with his confidence, but thanks to Sporting Chance he was able to re-sit his GCSE Maths and English while studying a fitness and gym instruction level 3 course.
He said: “I have definitely grown in confidence since I started. When I first started I wasn’t confident at all being here which didn’t help while I was applying for jobs
“I have been on a few work placements and one in Washington Warehouse, which wasn’t what I wanted to do but it was a good experience for six months.”
Charlie is now still applying for jobs but is hoping to pursue a career in retail.
The project has now set up a weekly boxing club to help young adults stay fit to help their mental health and wellbeing.
Jaime Cairns, the managing director of Sporting Chance, said: “I truly believe the North East has amazing opportunities for young people.
Brendan Foster believes grassroots sport needs more money
Sport has the power to change lives but clubs need support, says Made By Support boss
By Justin King, Chairman of Made By Sport
Sport has the power to change lives. It can teach us skills that last a lifetime and - in a world where it’s easier to play on your phone than in a park, and where joining gangs can be more glamorous than joining teams – it can play a pivotal role in how young people develop.
When these skills and values from sport – determination, discipline, teamwork and respect – are applied to other areas of a young person’s life the impact can be transformational.
There are hundreds of organisations across the country who use sport in this way to change young people’s lives for the better.
Projects like Sporting Chance in Newcastle, where boxing is a tool to unlock young people’s potential, instilling them with the confidence and motivation to learn and make their way into jobs and careers that would never have seemed possible before.
However, Sporting Chance and others like them need support.
Our mission at Made By Sport is to be their champion by helping secure vital funding for them to continue and increase the positive impact they have on young lives.
That’s why we are teaming up with this year’s 40th Great North Run – a true testament to sport’s ability to inspire and amaze.
Every single person running for Made By Sport at the Great North Run will be helping young people in need – and yet to benefit from sport’s unique ability to inspire – into better futures.