International Centre for
Sports Studies

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Fri. 28 October 2011

Parliamentary Launch for CIES Supported Research in London

The CIES academic partners at the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University, Leicester, held a prestigious academic report launch at the House of Commons in London on Wednesday 26th October.

The academic research, which is the first-ever comprehensive study of the impact of the Special Olympics GB (SOGB) National Summer Games, has concluded that sport not only provides enormous social and health benefits for people with learning disabilities – but it can also act as a pathway to a greater sense of citizenship and inclusivity.

Produced by sports history and sociology experts at both De Montfort University (DMU) and the University of Leicester, the Learning Disability, Sport and Legacy report was launched at the House of Commons by the UK Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson MP.

The groundbreaking research, which was part funded by the CIES, showed the benefits of the games to athletes and their carers, as well as society more widely, and looked at the impact and legacy of Special Olympics Leicester 2009 (SOL 2009) on the athletes, the city and the public.

Welcoming the report, the Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson said: “Lessons learned from this study are immediately transferable as the nation prepares to host other major sporting events, such as the Olympic games and the Rugby World Cup.

Thanking the academics behind the study he added: “The challenge of how to drive a legacy for these events is one we all face – and the lessons picked up by your work will be of enormous use to us.”

Launched at an event hosted by Leicester West MP Liz Kendall, the report calls for radical new thinking on future games – and more central government and sports governing body funding for learning disability sport.

Guests at the launch event also heard how, despite the costs to the local authority of hosting the event, Special Olympics GB’s 2009 National Summer Games in Leicester boosted the city’s economy with an estimated £2.8 million of additional spending.

The research also acknowledged the volunteers’ programme as an “outstanding success” with more than 1,000 residents of the city and county taking part and helping to run the games. Students and the retired were the largest groups represented among the volunteers.

The report was the result of a two-year research project led jointly by Professor Richard Holt and Dr Neil Carter from De Montfort University’s International Centre for Sports History and Culture, and John Williams from the University of Leicester’s Department of Sociology.

Professor Richard Holt, who is also a CIES/FIFA International MA (FIFA Master) Co-Scientific Director, said, “The research team are extremely grateful for the generous financial support of our Swiss partners on the FIFA Master, without which this research project would not have been possible. The project has further strengthened our research links with the CIES and we look forward to working on more joint projects in the future”.

Learning Disability, Sport and Legacy  – which was supported by Leicester City Council, SOGB, NHS Leicester City, SOL 2009 and the CIES – was commissioned by SOL 2009’s Legacy Research Group and can be downloaded from the DMU website.

SOL 2009 involved around 2,500 athletes, 1,200 coaches plus 6,000 family members and carers, making it the largest multi-sports event held in Britain in 2009. It staged events for 21 different sports in 21 sporting venues.

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