Sport Wales’ Director of Sport Systems Brian Davies has praised the contribution of National Lottery funding as “life-changing” during the current pandemic.

A total of £4.75m of National Lottery money has been invested into Welsh sport to support clubs and organisations since restrictions were imposed earlier this year.

Through Sport Wales’ Be Active Wales Fund – which also utilises Welsh Government funding – lottery cash has been used to help more than 450 grassroots clubs so far.

Some clubs have needed money to stay afloat, while others have been helped to cover the costs of adapting to Covid safety guidelines. Over £830,000 of grants have been awarded since the Be Active Wales Fund opened in July, and the fund has recently been expanded to support clubs who are ready to think about doing things differently in the future.

Children on the ski slope at Pontypool ski club
Pontypool Ski Club are one of over 450 grassroots clubs to receive funding from lottery and Welsh Government money via the Be Active Wales fund

    

So, every time you buy a Lotto or Thunderball ticket, you are doing your bit to help communities remain active, happy and motivated during the pandemic. And you’re also giving your backing to Wales’ elite athletes too, supporting their dreams of achieving their best performances at next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

During recent months, lottery funding has continued to be essential in ensuring that the country’s top athletes are in tip-top shape. Lottery money has remained a constant support, whether paying for online coaching or providing home gym equipment as athletes have needed to adapt their training schedules.

That cash is just a fraction of the £1.75 billion the National Lottery has ploughed into various good causes in Wales over the past 25 years – causes that have included landmark stadia and facilities as well as the back-up needed by Wales’ elite sports men and women.

 

Brian Davies believes National Lottery funding has proved vital at all levels of sport in Wales in recent months and said: “It changes lives – both at community and elite level.

“That’s exactly what it was designed to do. It wasn’t designed to just make a few people millionaires. The lottery has been a significant player for all of Welsh sport.

“If it went, there would be some very difficult decisions that would need to be made. We get a set amount of money from Welsh government which is fantastic and welcome, but the loss of National Lottery funding would leave a huge hole and force some tough decisions.

“Some of the social benefit the lottery funding gives is not easily achievable through normal government spending. The lottery gives you flexibility, particularly over when you spend the money.”

Providing that ability to look towards the future has always been a significant part of the National Lottery impact and its legacy.

Wales National Pool in Swansea
Sport Wales’ largest ever single National Lottery investment was £8million for the National Pool in Swansea

   

From the building of the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, to Wales’ National Pool in Swansea and the National Indoor Athletics Centre, the National Lottery has helped build the infrastructure for modern Welsh sport over the past quarter of a century.

More recently, it helped pay for the construction of the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome in Newport.

Thomas himself received National Lottery help in his early days, setting him on the road to becoming a Commonwealth Games champion for Wales, before he went on to win the Tour de France.

Inspired by his success, the cycling champions of tomorrow – as well as those who just wish to ride for fun and exercise – can use the velodrome that carries his name.

When it comes to funding those elite Welsh athletes, Davies says it’s only because of the National Lottery that the likes of Natalie Powell – a former Commonwealth judo champion for Wales and Olympic hopeful for Tokyo next year – have the support behind them to succeed.

Natalie Powell during a Judo competition
Supported by lottery funding, Natalie Powell is a former Commonwealth judo champion for Wales and Olympic hopeful for Tokyo next year

   

“With Natalie, what we have managed to do with our lottery funding is to attract a world class coach in Darren Warner,” adds Davies.

“Natalie appreciates that level of coaching but she wanted to stay in Wales.

“With that support, and sports science, medicine and the facilities at the National Sport Centre, where we have a dojo, Natalie can continue to achieve in the sport.

“The funding has allowed a Welsh athlete like Natalie to compete at the very highest level.”

In Paralympic sport, the impact of the National Lottery has perhaps been even more profound.

Wales has gone from being a county where disabled athletes received little financial support to one where they are backed in reaching their full potential.

“The pioneers – people like Tanni Grey-Thompson, Chris Hallam and John Harris – paved the way,” says Davies.

“But the subsequent National Lottery investment has built on their legacy and tried to ensure that no other Paralympic athlete now has to try and succeed without public financial support.”

At both a grass roots and elite level, the importance of National Lottery funding is only likely to grow as Wales adapts to the new challenges brought on by the impact of coronavirus.

It will be there to ensure the army of volunteers can continue to keep the national healthy and active, whilst also providing the ladder for those reaching for the top.

 

 

  • £1.75 Billion of National Lottery funding has been invested in Wales since the National Lottery began almost 25 years ago.
  • National Lottery Funding contributed to developing and building the iconic Principality Stadium in Cardiff- home to Wales' national rugby team which also hosts other world class sporting events such as football, motor sports, boxing, along with concerts and conferences
  • Sport Wales’ largest ever single National Lottery investment was £8million for the National Pool in Swansea.
  • National Lottery funding of elite sport through Sport Wales and UK Sport, has brought record breaking numbers of medals in Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
  • In 2018/19, Sport Wales received £14million of National Lottery funding to give out to Welsh sport.
  • Thanks to National Lottery players, £30m is raised every week for good causes, many of which are supporting the most vulnerable in communities across the UK during the Coronavirus crisis.