Stars of the future

BETHAN KELLY
BETHAN KELLY

TALENTED young sports stars have the opportunity to become the new Kat Copeland, Jessica Ennis or David Weir thanks to an innovative support programme.

Youngsters from Hartlepool can get access to support and guidance designed to help them compete at the highest levels in their chosen sport through the Future Champions programme.

Launched in September 2010 by Dame Tanni Grey Thompson, it is a flagship project in the Tees Valley Sport London 2012 legacy plan and has already supported 120 young people to date.

It aims to tap into the success of the GB Olympic and Paralympic teams at London 2012 and Tees Valley Sport is now inviting applications for the next intake of Future Champions.

Future Champions offers free access to local fitness facilities supported by the five Tees Valley local councils and Tees Valley Leisure and Tees Active Leisure Trusts.

Tees Valley Sport also provides a physical development programme co-ordinated by the sports science team at Teesside University.

The weekly physical development programme at the University also includes access to physiotherapy and has been very popular with the Future Champions.

Hartlepool youngster Bethan Kelly, 15, who competes in canoe slalom, said: “Future Champions has helped immensely with my fitness, which has been vital to my training.

“Recently I was involved in helping out in a Hartlepool Paralympic Games event in my role as a Future Champion which I also enjoyed.”

A number of other town youngsters have accessed the programme including swimmers, rugby union players, a biathlete and an indoor bowls player.

Tees Valley Sport is a partnership initiative that aims to co-ordinate sports development, planning and delivery in the Tees Valley, working closely with coaches, participants and officials.

Hartlepool Borough Council is one of the partners.

To be eligible, they must be aged 12 to 18 and live in the Tees Valley and playing sport at a regional or national squad level in their chosen sport.

The deadline for the next phase of applications is Sunday, September 30.

For more information visit www.teesvalleysport.co.uk/2012-legacy/future-champions/application-form or call Sarah Panayi on (01642) 342287.