Merton Council has been active in launching its initiative to become London’s Borough of Sport.
Merton Council is aiming to get all the borough’s residents to take part in at least one physical activity every week.
Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, Merton’s first ever Cabinet Member for Sport, said that they hope to ensure more opportunities for all residents through partnerships with local sporting organisations and investing in the borough’s sporting infrastructure.
The main target for the council is to improve activity levels and participation amongst all groups, but Cooper-Marbiah said they are particularly targeting under-16-year-olds and over 65s.
The council wants to ensure opportunities for all residents by funding grassroots sport and improving accessibility to sporting activities in less affluent areas in the borough, for example through low-cost and free sporting opportunities.
She said: “We want to remove the barriers preventing people from taking part in sporting activities.”
Cooper-Marbiah outlined several of the commitments the Merton Council has already made to promoting participation in physical activities for residents.
In September, Merton Council announced that swimming sessions would be free for all under 16-year-olds, with access to the borough’s leisure centres free all year round.
23 schools have received funding from the Merton Council, with around £300,000 being donated to provide more sporting activities for children.
47 tennis courts have also been refurbished in the borough as part of a £961,000 renovation.
Cooper-Marbiah added that the council wants to celebrate Merton’s renowned sporting heritage.
Amongst other historic sporting legacy, Merton hosts the biggest global tennis event; The Wimbledon Championships.
The borough also has the world’s oldest continuously used cricket pitch.
Cooper-Marbiah stated that the Merton Council will continue to apply for funding from different institutions in order to provide as many opportunities as possible.
She pledged: “This is just the beginning, there is so much more to come.”
Merton Council held an event at the Canons House in Mitcham on Sunday, named ‘The Big Sports Day’.
The event was organised in collaboration with sporting organisations in the borough to demonstrate the vast amount of activities available for people of all ages across the borough.
There were over 30 different local sports and community clubs at the event, including representatives from The All England Lawn Tennis Club and AFC Wimbledon.
The event featured plenty of different activities ranging from BMX biking to martial arts.
There were also different opportunities catering for people of all ages, including pensioners, with activities like walking tennis.
Wimbledon Guild, the charity who organise the weekly walking tennis activity, is a community charity in Merton providing practical help and support to people.
They are particularly working with Merton Council to offer weekly opportunities for pensioners to be physically, and mentally, active.
The charity provides a wide-range of different physical activities for those of all abilities.
These include an adapted form of curling, and an innovative specially designed dance class for people living with Parkinson’s.
As London’s Borough of Sport, Cooper-Marbiah said that Merton Council hope their initiative will stimulate more commitment by other councils to improve the facilities and opportunities available across London’s boroughs.