Momentum towards the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is rapidly gathering pace, and moves are under way to use the event to encourage the nation to become more active and lead a healthier lifestyle, while also inspiring the next generation of champions.
A key component in delivering a lasting legacy is investment in facilities to help create a world-class sporting infrastructure throughout Scotland.
The official openings of the Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the £5m refurbishment project at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, and the development of top-class regional indoor centres in Aberdeen and Ravenscraig are seen as evidence of the tremendous improvements which have been made across the country in recent years.
While Mark Cowan, Head of Facilities at sportscotland, is delighted with the progress which has already been achieved, he knows there is still more to do.
He said: “We’ve now got venues in Scotland that people can be proud of, and should be recognised as being world-class.
“We have genuinely made a step-change in terms of what we’ve now got in Scotland, by way of major regional and national facilities.
“The emphasis and focus was on providing the athletes with the high quality of facilities they needed to train and compete in. We set out to create aspirational, inspirational, high-quality facilities and that’s exactly what’s been created.”
In addition to sportscotland’s million-pound backing of world-class venues, three separate funding streams – Sports Facilities Fund, CashBack for Communities, and the Legacy 2014 Active Places – have also been rolled out to help deliver at the grassroots level.
The latest of these investment strands, Active Places, was launched in October last year, with £10m available until 2015 for community-led projects. Already, around 100 enquiries have been addressed by Mr Cowan and his team at sportscotland headquarters ahead of a February deadline for the first round of applications seeking grants of between £10,000 and £100,000.
Mr Cowan said: “Active Places allows for more flexibility and diversity in the projects that can come forward. I would envisage us investing in outdoor and adventure sport projects, such as skate and bike parks and paths projects, innovative projects around the school estate, and community-focussed projects such as multi-sport games areas. “Active Places allows for greater diversity as it is wider and more informal than the Sports Facilities Fund – which is more planning-led and subject to strategic consideration in its nature. Each is valuable, it’s just a different approach.”
The Commonwealth Games has increased the spotlight on Scotland’s flagship facilities, but Mr Cowan insists that sportscotland’s focus is on improving the quality of stock available to high performance athletes and community alike.
Another key element of Glasgow 2014’s sporting legacy is the development of Community Sport Hubs across Scotland’s 32 local authorities. More than 60 hubs are already in operation and there will be 150 by 2016, with at least 50 per cent based in schools