COVENTRY has been named as the UK’s European City of Sport for 2019.
The title has been awarded by European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation (ACES Europe) and will mark a celebration of all aspects of sport and wellbeing across Coventry.
Council chiefs have said it will bring investment and recognition for the city’s sport and well-being policies.
The council says judges who visited the city last month were impressed with its ‘exemplary sports policy’ and its aims of ‘health integration and respect’, which are the main goals of ACES Europe.
An important part of the year will be to celebrate the opening of the new waterpark in the city centre as well as the new 50 metre pool at the Alan Higgs centre and the sports and wellness hub at the University of Warwick.
The year will also focus on encouraging more young people – especially those who live in disadvantaged communities – to enjoy sport and lead an active lifestyle.
This will build on the work that’s already achieving success thanks to projects like In It Together and Go Swim which are seeing people across the city return to sport and physical activity.
Leader of the council, George Duggins, said: “European City of Sport 2019 will be a special year for our city, and the perfect build up to City of Culture in 2021, with investment in community sports programmes and grants and huge investment in new sporting facilities – a £36million waterpark with gym, health spa and squash courts and a new 50m swimming pool at the Alan Higgs Centre.
“We already do lots to encourage our residents to be active and healthy and we will make sure that we work with partners throughout 2019 and beyond to encourage as many people as possible to get active.”
Councillor Kamran Caan, cabinet member for public health and sport said: “Our sports strategy, which builds on the wonderful legacy of London 2012, is helping us to ensure that everyone in Coventry has access to high quality and affordable facilities whilst giving residents as much support as possible to become active.”
Part of the programme for the year includes a new community grants fund to work with grassroots sports clubs and communities and also creating a number of new satellite sports clubs for 11-19 year olds.
John Swanson, vice president ACES Europe, said: “We are supremely confident that this will bring with it an incredible celebration of sport in the city, showcasing Coventry’s many unique and exciting sporting assets and its strong tradition of both participation and spectator sport.”
Former Olympian Dave Moorcroft, chair of Coventry Sport Network, said: “Coventry is having a big impact on people and this award further recognises the many achievements the city has to celebrate.
“I have seen some big changes to our city but I’m most inspired by local people who make changes to their lives through sport and physical activity.”
The judges were welcomed by members of the Coventry Sport Network and a range of local sports clubs and partners.
A full programme of activities and events is being developed by all the partners in the city.