Mayor of London plays softball to launch the London Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives programme
Fri 25 Jul 2014
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was the star attraction at the London launch of the Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives programme. Hundreds of members of the public and press gathered around Boris as he prepared to hit pitches thrown by the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales.
Softball is one of a number of activities that have been offered in Newham through the Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives programme this summer, which offers people 3,500 hours of free, fun activity sessions in ten parks across the borough.
Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives is a partnership between Coca-Cola Great Britain and local authorities to deliver a dedicated programme of fun, free activities in the heart of local communities – the parks.
“It was an honour to be such an integral part of the launch of the Newham Coca-Cola ParkLives programme yesterday," said BaseballSoftballUK’s Joint CEO John Boyd. "Softball has been really well-received in Newham this summer, run across four parks. We look forward to offering softball in Birmingham and Newcastle next year and continuing to develop our partnership with the programme.”
Across the summer of 2014, thousands of structured sessions, led and delivered by local coaches, will take place in parks across three participating cities – Newham (London), Birmingham and Newcastle. The programme is part of a £20m investment made by Coca-Cola Great Britain all the way through to 2020, designed to get one million people physically active, but in a fun way that suits their lifestyle. The emphasis is on activity, rather than sports, and is for people of all ages and fitness levels.
In a real example of public-private collaboration, Coca-Cola Great Britain has worked closely with each local authority to put on the kinds of activities that most appeal to people in their local area, from zumba to Tai Chi to hula-hooping and table tennis.
Launching the programme in Newham, the Mayor also announced a new partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain to give tens of thousands of Londoners the chance to try new sports and activities.
A £500,000 investment by the Mayor in his hugely successful FreeSport programme will be match-funded by Coca-Cola Great Britain over the next two years. It is expected that this combined grant of £1 million will enable approximately 34,000 people of all ages and abilities to access free sporting activities and will provide grants for around 600 sports clubs and organisations in the capital.
A key part of the Mayor of London’s £22.5m Sports Legacy Programme, FreeSport allows sports clubs, organisations, youth groups and community groups to apply for grants of up to £1,500 to run free activities for Londoners of all ages and abilities, to encourage more people to try sports.
Since it launched in 2009, the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Programme has benefitted more than 330,000 Londoners. The Mayor has invested almost £900,000 in FreeSport which has engaged almost 60,000 people.
Earlier this month, FreeSport awarded 160 sports clubs and organisations a total of £200,000 in its latest round of funding. FreeSport projects are delivered as a series of activities, rather than one-off events. This helps make the activity become a habit and helps offer a clear route for people to carry on playing sport afterwards.
The match funding from Coca-Cola Great Britain will allow the Mayor’s FreeSport programme to reach twice as many people by 2016. The scheme will specifically target those who traditionally are less likely to engage in sport, including women, the elderly, and black and minority ethnic groups.
Boris Johnson said, “FreeSport has been incredibly popular since it launched in 2009, giving thousands of people the chance to develop a sporting habit that will stay with them for life. This fantastic investment means that we will be able to help tens of thousands more Londoners to get active, try something new and lead healthier lifestyles. Whatever your age or ability, there is bound to be a sport or activity to suit, so give it a go.”
Jon Woods, General Manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain said: “We want to inspire people to get active in a fun and engaging way that fits in with their life. Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives and the FreeSport programme encourage people of all ages to try something new and take part in physical activities that are free, fun and sociable. Nationally, we want to get one million people moving by 2020 by working in partnership with others.”
Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham said, “We launched Newham’s Every Child a Sportsperson programme to encourage a generation to take up sport by giving our young people the opportunity to try new activities and become more physically active. Our partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain will enable us to build on this scheme and reach even more of our residents, helping them to live healthy and active lifestyles. We strongly believe that these fun and social activities can inspire people to live a healthy, more active way of life that will help them achieve their potential.”