Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced an additional £16.7m in loan support to protect rugby league.
The loan is part of the winter phase of the Government’s sport survival package, and follows the previous £16m in emergency support last year.
To mark the announcement, Dowden will help to make the draw for the third round of the Challenge Cup.
It’s being held at Victoria Park in Warrington, which has benefited from a new 3G pitch as part of the World Cup’s legacy funding. The Government has provided £25m towards the staging of the World Cup at the end of the year.
On his visit to Victoria Park, Dowden will also join the Year 8 girls of Cardinal Newman High School, who will be the first team in the country to get back into organised outdoor team sport through a pre-school training session with the Warrington Wolves Foundation.
St Helens and England women’s player Jodie Cunningham, a former student at Cardinal Newman, said: “The return of grassroots sport is a fantastic moment for everyone who loves sport, and the positive impact it makes on people’s lives.
“I know the girls from my old school, Cardinal Newman, will be really excited to use these brilliant new facilities at Victoria Park – and there will be so many others of all ages in our Rugby League communities who can’t wait to get back doing what they love.”
In line with the government’s roadmap, sports facilities including football and cricket pitches, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor swimming pools, golf courses and sailing clubs can now reopen safely, setting the nation on a path of improved physical and mental health.
From today, organised outdoor team sports can also resume meaning that sports competitions of all ages and skill levels can restart ahead of the Easter holiday break.
Parents and guardians are being urged to help their children follow the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance and aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and adults to aim for at least 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, a week.
Exercise and outdoor sports are well documented to reduce individuals’ risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower risk of early death by up to 30%.
The reopening of the outdoors sports sector will seek to help reduce the impacts of these debilitating diseases and in turn reduce pressure on the NHS.
Physical activity is known to improve health outcomes which can include improving mental health through better sleep, happier moods, and managing stress and anxiety.
It comes as the ‘stay at home’ message ends and ‘rule of six’ is reintroduced, which means that outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households are allowed. Social contact rules will not apply to outdoor, organised team sport.