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Other Sports - 28. February 2008.

Sport England takes sport to corridors of Westminster

Sport England is giving MPs and Lords the opportunity to spend seven days each with some of the nation’s best known sporting organisations to promote better understanding between the worlds of sport and politics.

Now in its second phase, Sport England’s Parliamentary Sports Fellowship Scheme welcomed its second intake of Parliamentarians at a private reception last week (20 February).

The purpose of the Scheme is to give MPs and Peers a unique insight into their chosen sport, from grass-roots right up to competition level. The Scheme is a cross-party initiative sponsored in Parliament by Derek Wyatt MP, Hugh Robertson MP and Bob Russell MP.

Sporting organisations taking part this time round include the Football Association, the Lawn Tennis Association and the Rugby Football League. Each sporting organisation is required to host their Parliamentarians for seven days. In return, representatives of the sporting organisations are invited to spend three days with their sponsoring MP or Peer in Parliament.

Sport England has recently recruited 15 new MPs and Peers to take part in phase two of the Scheme. Each has been twinned with organisations involved in the leadership, management and business of sport, from sports Governing Bodies to leading sports businesses.

Derek Wyatt MP, a former rugby international, said:

"This is a great way of ensuring sport remains a key focus within the walls of Westminster. We are looking to make the Scheme better than ever before, and I am delighted so many of my Parliamentary colleagues have signed up to take part”.

Hugh Robertson MP, who was twinned with the England and Wales Cricket Board during phase one of the Scheme, added:

“My Parliamentary Sports Fellowship with the ECB provided an unrivalled opportunity to see every aspect of the way that cricket is run in this country. The ECB's willingness to open their doors made it a huge success. My abiding memory will be the days spent with Chance to Shine - cricket's grassroots programme to reintroduce the game in state schools. The excitement and enjoyment evident in the faces of the children taking part was the most vivid example possible of why sport is so important to the lives of all young people"

Bob Russell MP, who is being twinned with the Youth Sport Trust in phase

two of the Scheme, said:

“The Parliamentary Sports Fellowship Scheme is a wonderful concept, and can only lead to a better understanding between sport in the widest sense and the political scene. Both, I am sure, will benefit from this arrangement. I am looking forward to my involvement with youth sport. As a country, we have got to do a lot more to promote sport and general healthy living amongst our young people. I am confident that my involvement in the Sports Fellowship will assist in this general aim."

Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England, added:

“Sport should be fun and life-enhancing. But it also needs to be taken seriously by decision makers and opinion formers. The Sport England Parliamentary Sports Fellowship Scheme seeks to provide Parliamentarians with an enjoyable – and informative – insight into the world of professional, amateur and grass-roots sport. Sport England is delighted to have facilitated this Scheme in its second stage”.

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