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Cardiff Blues kick off Road Show to celebrate Wales' top-notch lottery sports facilities

9th March 2010

Four Blues stars help put rising young sports stars through their paces at Willows High School in Splott, Cardiff this week.

Four Blues stars help put rising young sports stars through their paces at Willows High School in Splott, Cardiff this week.

Paul Tito, John Yapp, Chris Czekaj and Darren Allinson joined the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to launch a road show backed by Wales' sporting stars travelling around Wales, celebrating £50 million of investment into schools and community sports facilities.

The school's Lottery funded astro turf pitch was used to celebrate the success of the Big Lottery Fund's New Opportunities for PE and Sport (NOPES) programme.

Launched in 2002, the programme has provided new or improved sports facilities to help increase access for entire communities in Wales to ultimately improve health, fitness and quality of life through sport.

Across Wales, nearly 190 separate schools and communities have received funding through NOPES for facilities ranging from outdoor activity centres, climbing walls and astro turf to multi-million pound sports facilities for use by both schools and local communities. The road show will revisit some of these projects from across Wales this week looking at the impact the money has had in helping to create Wales' sporting stars of the future.

As well as encouraging people to try out new sports, the legacy of the NOPES programme is also unearthing future sport stars within schools and in the local community, by giving young people new opportunities to participate in new or improved sports facilities.

Willows High School in Splott used a £580,349 Big Lottery Fund grant to develop an artificial turf pitch with fencing, floodlighting and new changing rooms for boys and girls. Previously the school's pitch was waterlogged for several months each year, limiting access for school teams and community use, but the school now has successful hockey teams for boys as well as girls and some of the star female footballers also play for Cardiff City football club's ladies team. Community groups in and around Cardiff have also benefited from access to the all weather pitch after school hours, including St Alban's RFC in Cardiff.

Led by captain, Paul Tito, Cardiff Blues' squad members, Chris Czekaj, John Yapp and Darren Allinson will also be on hand to give the young people a run for their money as they enjoy a rugby coaching session. They will join in on a training session with the pupils and score tries, ruck over tackle bags and scrum for possession on the astro turf pitch to see what the next generation of rugby hopefuls has to offer.

Cardiff Blues' Captain, Paul Tito, said: "It's great to get the chance to help coach young pupils on some first rate sporting facilities. Rugby is still one of the best loved sports in Wales but without support from organisations like the Big Lottery Fund, we risk losing some really strong players.

"If we want to make sure Welsh rugby can compete with other countries in the future, we have to make sure that we're investing in nurturing young talent and making sure that they have the best opportunities to succeed."

Highlighting the impact of the investment, Big Lottery Fund Director for Wales, Ceri Doyle, said: "Over £50 million of Big Lottery Fund money has been channelled into first class sports facilities across Wales, giving thousands of people and hundreds of communities new opportunities to get active and participate in a wide range of sports not previously available to them. The success of all these projects proves that providing better facilities and widening access can help inspire people of all ages and from all backgrounds, to get out, get active and live healthier, fuller lives."