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Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson launches disability sport initiative

Celebrated Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson will today inspire more disabled people to take up sport through the launch of a ground-breaking nationwide initiative called Deloitte Parasport.  This is part of a £1.7 million commitment by business advisory firm Deloitte to develop disability sports in the UK.

Dame Tanni, patron of the British Paralympic Association (BPA), met groups of young people and adults with a disability, at Queens Club, in London for the first demonstration of the virtual sports portal established through the scheme.  Parasport has been created and will be run by BPA on behalf of Deloitte.  The online resource, www.parasport.org.uk, will allow disabled people to discover the sporting options open to them locally. 

Through Deloitte Parasport, talented young athletes will also have the opportunity to find out what further support is available to them and how to qualify for funding through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), delivered by SportsAid in association with the national governing bodies of sport.  To ensure that financial support meets the demand that Parasport will stimulate, Deloitte’s programme also doubles the Government’s investment in TASS bursaries for sports people with disabilities.

Dame Tanni races her last competitive race in Manchester next week at the Visa Paralympic World Cup and is concerned at the lack of people taking up sport for the disabled in this country with the Paralympic Games of 2012 just five years away.

Dame Tanni commented: “We need to encourage more youngsters, as well as the disabled community as a whole, to take up sport either competitively or for health reasons and the Deloitte Parasport scheme will open up that opportunity wherever they are in the UK.”

Deloitte Parasport enables users to engage with a sport or sports either directly or through regional multi-sport taster sessions.

“We wanted to create a clear route for people to follow”, said BPA Chief Executive Phil Lane, who first devised the scheme.  “With integration at school-level many young people do not necessarily know how to access sport for the disabled in their local area.  Equally, we needed to address finding new athletes for the GB team in time for 2012 and beyond. This scheme should help extend the talent pool.”

Once individuals have become engaged in a sport or number of sports, there are options to stay in recreational sport as well as for the talented amongst them to access competitive opportunities.  The programme sets out to improve opportunities for talented sports people at community level to be identified and supported, with the aim of increasing participation levels in competitive sporting events.

Deloitte Chairman, Martin Scicluna, commented: “We are delighted that Deloitte Parasport is going live today.  This is the first virtual, on-line facility of its kind for people with disabilities to pursue their sporting interests.  We believe that Deloitte Parasport will boost the numbers of people playing disabled sport in the community, and will help create the next generation of world class athletes to continue the UK’s great performance in international disability sport events.

“Deloitte has a strong tradition of supporting community endeavour and nurturing top talent and this scheme reflects our commitment to making a difference in the community and to nurturing potential in young people.

“As top talent starts to emerge, we appreciate that there are financial hurdles for disabled people who have the potential for exceptional performance but who need a helping hand at the start of their sporting careers.  Our sponsorship for individual athletes will double the scope of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS*) and the TASS 2012 scheme, specifically for people with disabilities.”

Phil Lane added:  “With increasing challenges from around the world, it is essential we find new and innovative ways to support young and emerging talent and having a city firm like Deloitte involved at this level is hugely important.”

Tim Lawler, Chief Executive of SportsAid said: “Deloitte’s commitment is already making a difference as demonstrated by the increased number of talented athletes with a disability supported by TASS. The launch of Deloitte Parasport will build on that and ensure that all athletes with a disability are aware of the opportunities available to them.”

Visit: http://www.parasport.org.uk

Notes to editors

*Scholarships will be made through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).  As Disability Sport Partner, Deloitte’s support will help more athletes to progress to higher levels of performance, building the TASS and TASS 2012 disability component to see more 16 – 35 year old emerging talented athletes, financially and practically to achieve high performance in their chosen sport. 
TASS is an inspired, Government-funded initiative to support emerging young sporting

Deloitte Parasport will be delivered for Deloitte by the British Paralympic Association, and aimed at meeting the BPA’s strategic objectives for improving the pipeline for future talent.

SportsAid is a registered charity (no 1111612) and has been helping talented young British sportsmen and women since 1976, in that time distributing just over £30 million.  SportsAid is currently at the heart of the Government-backed Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), distributing the funding for TASS athletes on behalf of the scheme. Visit www.sportsaid.org.uk for further information.

About Deloitte

In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte & Touche LLP which is among the country’s leading professional services firms, providing audit, tax, consulting and corporate finance services. Deloitte & Touche LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (‘DTT’), a Swiss Verein whose member firms are separate and independent legal entities.  Neither DTT nor any of its member firms has any liability for each other’s omissions.  Services are provided by member firms or their subsidiaries and not by DTT.  Deloitte & Touche LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.  The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.  For further information, visit our website at www.deloitte.co.uk

For further information about Deloitte please contact: Danielle Anthony on 020 7303 3861 or daanthony@deloitte.co.uk

For further information about the British Paralympic Association please contact the press office on 01225 383518 or by email at admin@matchtight.co.uk For news updates visit the BPA website at www.paralympics.org.uk

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