Sporting events in Wales must leave 'legacy'

Image caption, The Ryder Cup is one of the biggest sporting events hosted in Wales

More needs to be done to get lasting "legacies" out of big sporting events in Wales, according to a group of AMs.

A report by the Communities and Culture Committee says events such as the Wales Open golf tournament should benefit the communities which stage them.

These legacies could include encouraging more people to take up sport or increasing tourism in an area.

The report has been welcomed by sporting organisations.

The assembly government said it will make a full response to the report "in due course".

The Making the Most of Major Sporting Events report calls for the Welsh Assembly Government to demand that major sporting events receiving public funding produce a strategy to make sure the economy and community benefit once the fans have gone.

Annual seminar

It recommends that ministers give more advice and support to event organisers to make sure that happens.

The committee also wants the assembly government to organise an annual seminar for local authorities, the media, charities, private sector companies and sporting bodies, to discuss good practice and greater partnership initiatives.

During its inquiry - which included evidence from the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and Ryder Cup Wales 2010 - the committee found that major events can encourage physical exercise and increase a location's profile, increasing tourism and generating economic growth.

One example came from Glamorgan Cricket Club, which noted that the 2009 Ashes led to engagement with more than 65,000 children and young people in Wales.

Communities and Culture Committee chair Sandy Mewies AM said: "Wales is renowned as a nation of sports fans.

"We love our Six Nations rugby; we've hosted the FA cup final; the Ashes and now the Ryder Cup.

"What's more, the evidence of our inquiry clearly suggests that major sporting events have the potential to have positive impacts within specific areas, or even on the whole country.

"But such impacts can fade away once the crowds have gone.

"We need to ensure that strategic plans are in place to make sure that major sporting events in Wales leave behind more than memories."

Raising awareness

Dr Huw Jones, chief executive Sport Wales, welcomed the findings.

"Hosting major sporting events can potentially play a role in raising awareness of a particular activity or in encouraging people to become more active," he said.

"For example we have seen a significant increase in people playing golf since the announcement that the Ryder Cup will be at Celtic Manor later this year.

"What is important with this example is the significant planning and investment that has gone into ensuring that the event leaves a lasting legacy."

The assembly government will now make a full response to the report.

A spokesman said: "The assembly government has helped to bring the Ashes and the Ryder Cup to Wales and we are committed to attracting more major events to Wales and developing our own.

"When deciding which events to support we always look to ensure Wales gets the maximum economic, social, cultural and reputational benefits."

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