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In 2020 the world shifted in ways we could not imagine. One phenomenon was the desire to take to the water to stay active and to try something new, while complying with restrictions.

Firms selling kayaks, canoes and paddleboards reported record trade. Meanwhile, British Canoeing celebrated their highest-ever participation numbers with membership figures increasing by 23% compared to 2019. 

Keen to seize on the rocketing enthusiasm, Cardiff Canoe Club has successfully been awarded a £18,000 grant from Sport Wales’ Be Active Wales Fund to boost the opportunities they provide and also help them address inequalities so that even more people can enjoy the sport.

Canoeist on water


The club is investing the money into pool hire, new boats and a box van trailer. 

Club Treasurer Mike Thomas said: “We want everyone to be able to get involved; not just those who can afford to buy what’s needed.”

Once lockdown is lifted, the grant will help the club with the cost of venue hire during the colder months so that they won’t need to raise their prices for pool sessions. 

Once the weather improves, the club will move outdoors. This helps the club’s bank balance – and improves sustainability - as it reduces the money spent on pool hire. And to help the paddlers switch to the open water, the Be Active Wales Fund grant will be ploughed into new boats, a trailer as well as training up coaches.

“We’ll be upskilling some of our volunteers so that they can coach outdoors,” Mike added. “This will mean that we can run more sessions. We’re looking to involve more women who have perhaps tried out the sport through the She Paddles Cymru scheme, and we are also planning to work with local Scout and Guide groups to help increase the number of junior members joining in on club activities. 

“We’re buying more junior boats too. We get a lot of families coming to our starter sessions, so by having more equipment we can open our sessions up to more people.”

Mike concluded: “The great thing about a club environment is that you can go out with experienced leaders who can make you aware of the risks, choose waters that are suitable for your capability, and provide safety advice.”

The funding awarded to Cardiff Canoe Club came from the ‘Progress’ element of the Be Active Wales Fund, which provides grants of between £300 and £50,000 to support sports clubs and organisations with their future plans so that they can offer even better opportunities for the nation to be active beyond the Covid-19 crisis.