Just as Leeds has become a world class hub in triathlon, we are determined that rowing will soon follow suit. 10 years ago there was no rowing in Leeds at all. With support from Sport England, University of Leeds and British Rowing, we now have a £1.1 million facility with plans to extend.
At RowLeeds we are determined to grow our own. We have therefore built powerful links between the outstanding-rated Gorse Academies Trust and the city’s two established clubs, Leeds Rowing Club and University of Leeds Boat Club.
Serving some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Leeds, the Gorse Executive Principal, Sir John Townsley has employed a full time professional coach in two of his schools and has plans for four more coaches across three more schools in the next two years.
We want to keep this junior talent in Leeds. Both Leeds RC and University of Leeds recognise their role in offering compelling destinations for our home grown junior rowers. The university has recently employed a full time rowing coach and Leeds RC has grown so quickly that it must very soon do the same.
With interest in rowing across the city growing by the day, the queue for Leeds RC membership was already winding around the corner. Post-Olympics that line has only got longer. The club urgently needs to professionalise its coaching structure to cope with the demand. Such developments will be a key component of our strategy over the coming year.
Elsewhere, with support from the Yorkshire Sport Foundation and Leeds Active Schools Network, we will soon be developing an indoor rowing programme for other Leeds secondary schools. This programme is due to start in September 2017.
Lots to do.