Hundreds of young people across the borough are to be given new opportunities to take part in a wide range of sports thanks to £650,000 worth of funding being given to Croydon to establish a School Sport Co-ordinators (SSCo) programme.

Funded by the Sport England Lottery Sports Fund, the programme is aimed at increasing sports opportunities for young people through co-ordinated PE, school sport and out of school learning activities that link with local community sports facilities and development programmes.

Launching in April 2002, the school sport co-ordinators will help to:

Increase participation among school age children, including girls and young women, black and ethnic minorities, disabled young people and young people in areas of socio-economic disadvantage;

Improve the standard of performance by children across a range of sports;

Improve motivation and attitude resulting in an increase in pupils' achievement in all aspects of their school life;

Increase the number of qualified and active coaches, leaders and officials in schools, local primary schools and local sports clubs/facilities.

In Croydon, two clusters will be formed focusing on different areas for development.

Westwood High School for Girls, Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School, Norbury Manor Girls' High and The Archbishop Lanfranc School will work with their feeder primary schools to improve opportunities for girls and young women.

While details of the programme are still to be finalised, initiatives such as providing discreet use of swimming clubs for Asian girls and introducing games and activities from other cultures are being considered.

Meanwhile, Addington High, Ashburton Community School, The Selhurst High School for Boys and Woodcote High will focus on community involvement which could see the expansion of a number of sports such as gymnastics, hockey and all-season athletics.

With the programme due to start in April 2002, Croydon's education department will be seeking to recruit extra staff early in the new year.