Talented athletes from the Erewash Borough outlined a wide range of sporting aspirations for 2015 as they celebrated receiving a bursary from the county’s ICON programme.
Joseph Hazeldine and Ben Wade were among the stars of the future to speak in front of Erewash Borough councillors and representatives of Derbyshire Sport - who run the ICON programme - at Long Eaton Town Hall last Wednesday.
They are among several athletes from the area who have been selected to receive a grant of up to £250 each, which they can use to help meet costs such as travel, equipment, coaching fees or competition costs.
All of the athletes are tipped for further success in their respective sports, and are either already competing for England or Great Britain or are part of recognised national development squads or club academy structures.
Erewash Borough Council will also provide each with free access to its leisure facilities with passes that are worth up to £300 per head to further help them with their training.
Footballer Ben, 13, from Long Eaton plays with the East Midlands Centre of Excellence for the Deaf and Partially sighted, competing against other Centres of Excellence from across England.
“I’m hoping to get in the England squad over the course of the year, so ICON support will help me buy new boots and help my mum pay the petrol to get me to matches in Derby and Birmingham,” he said.
Ice hockey player Joseph, 13, from Ilkeston, plays for Nottingham Ice Hockey Club and has been part of the England under-13s and under-14s squads.
Other athletes selected for ICON from the Erewash Borough include skier Justin Taylor-Tipton, 14, from West Hallam, Kevin Wallbank, 18, who is a member of Long Eaton Swimming Club, and others from areas such as Borrowash and Breaston.
Cllr Mike Wallis, lead member for culture at Erewash Borough Council, Erewash mayor Cllr Kewal Singh Athwal and Ilana Freestone, director of Derbyshire Sport, met and congratulated some of the athletes, who will hope to follow last summer’s Commonwealth Games medal winners Adam Peaty and Liam Pitchford in using ICON support to reach the top of their chosen sports.
“Erewash is only a small borough, but the talent the area continues to produce is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the athletes concerned, as well as the support they receive from teachers, parents and coaches, and we’re rightly proud of every single one of them,” said Cllr Wallis.
“We all took great delight in the great success of our sporting stars at London 2012 and it would be great to think that there are other ICON athletes from the area who could follow in the footsteps of Adam and Liam by achieving success at the top level, and we’re committed to supporting talented local athletes by providing free access to our leisure facilities across the district.”
Erewash Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council are among ten local authorities across the county who are business members of business network ICON, which was set up by Derbyshire Sport as part of the work to create a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Games in Derbyshire.
Each contributes valuable funding, which is then divided up and goes straight to athletes, with 131 athletes across the county receiving a total of £21,925 for 2015.
Other members of the programme include Derby College, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce and PKF Cooper Parry.