Category Archives: Sport

MP Helen’s in the swim at historic club awards evening

Helen Grant MP at the Maidstone SC 2017 awards with volunteer coach Michelle Clarke and head coach Clair Muller
Helen Grant MP at the Maidstone SC 2017 awards with volunteer coach Michelle Clarke and head coach Clair Muller

Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant was delighted to present awards to some of Maidstone’s brightest young swimming talents this week at the UK’s most historic swimming club.

Founded in 1844, Maidstone Swimming Club is recognised as the oldest competitive swimming club in the country. It was formed to combat concern over drownings in the river Medway. Members used to swim in the river as well as hold diving competitions and polo matches.

Under head-coach Claire Muller and Chairman Paul Chilman the club is going from strength to strength, with more children than ever achieving county and regional times. Recently 65 of the club’s swimmers have qualified for the Kent County Swimming Championships and one member has even trialed for Team GB.

Helen Grant said “It was a real pleasure for me to be able to present awards to some of our brilliant young swimmers and it is fantastic to see so many of our young people dedicating themselves to sport. Maidstone is extremely fortunate to pay host to such a fantastic establishment. This club is truly historic and it gives our youngsters a great grounding in life. Not only that, but the talent and ability on show today demonstrates great promise for our region’s sporting future!”

Volunteer Coach Michelle Clarke said: “We had a fantastic evening at Maidstone swimming club presentation evening, with thanks to Helen Grant MP for her assistance with the presentations and kind and inspiring words. We are delighted to celebrate all the hard work and achievements of our swimmers and coaches, and we look forward to more success in 2017.”

Celebrating England Gold at the Maidstone Hockey Festival

Maidstone Hockey Club - upcoming events
Upcoming events

Former Minister for Sport and Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant returned to the hockey pitch last weekend, 35 years since her last game as a teenager.

Maidstone Hockey Club’s Hockey festival was organised to attract new members and encourage former players back to the sport whilst also celebrating the women’s team GB Hockey gold medal in Rio. Players of all ages turned up throughout the day last Saturday to participate and support the event, culminating in a barbecue at the club house in South Park, on Armstrong Road.

Helen said “I’ve been looking for an excuse to get back into hockey for ages. I really miss my team sports and I used to play hockey at County level in Cumbria. The Maidstone Hockey Festival was just the chance I was looking for. The players and coaches were warm, welcoming and lovely and I hope to become a regular at Maidstone Hockey if my schedule allows”.

Chairman of Maidstone Hockey Club Matt Evans said “Our festival was part of the national ‘I Am Team GB’, ‘Join in’ campaign. Over 140 men, ladies and juniors took part in games throughout the day and attended a coaching session. The event was a resounding success and Maidstone Hockey Club are looking forward to the new season with a raised awareness and support for the game following Team GB’s gold medal in Rio’.

For more information about Maidstone hockey go here; www.maidstonehockey.org

Maidstone Ghurka Boxing Club young stars meet sporting legends

Two aspiring international boxers from the Maidstone Gurkha Boxing Club in Bridge Street recently joined Maidstone & The Weald MP Helen Grant for a special high profile sports event at the House of Commons

Together with club owner, former Gurkha and Olympic Boxer Jhapat Bhujel, young Benjamin Chettri and Reswan Rai met Olympic gold heptathlete Denise Lewis OBE, football coach Annie Zaidi and were interviewed on TV alongside England soccer legend Sol Campbell before participating with them all in a question and answer session chaired by former Minister for Sport Helen Grant.

Afterwards they networked in a room full of 120 senior figures from sport governing bodies, funding agencies and sports media specialists.

Currently immersed in school exams, Maidstone’s Olympic hopefuls Ben and Reswan are looking forward to training for their next bouts at an international tournament in Dublin later this year.

Helen said “I hope their experience in Westminster will bolster their aspirations and help prepare them for success. That’s part of what sporting equals is all about”.

Benjamin Chettri and Reswan Rai with Olympic gold heptathlete Denise Lewis OBE
Benjamin Chettri and Reswan Rai with Olympic gold heptathlete Denise Lewis OBE and Helen Grant MP at the Palace of Westminster Sporting Equals event on 12th May 2016.

Helen joins Denise Lewis OBE and Sol Cambell to promote diversity in sport

Helen and Sol Campbell
Helen and Sol Campbell

Helen Grant has sponsored a heavily subscribed event for Sporting Equals in the Jubilee Room at the Palace of Westminster this coming Thursday, 12th May 2016.

The event will be attended by Denise Lewis OBE, former Olympian Gold Medallist, and Sol Campbell, former England International footballer. Other attendees will include senior representatives from across the sporting sector, its governing bodies and invited media including Sky Sport.

In addition to speeches and presentations there will and a panel debate chaired by Helen Grant featuring Sol and Denise together with groundbreaking football coach Annie Zaidi.

Helen is also delighted to welcome, budding sports enthusiasts from her constituency including young people from the Nepalese Community, who attend boxing and Tai Kwan Do clubs in Maidstone. They will have an opportunity to meet Sol and Denise.

Attendees will be invited to pledge their support for the campaign led by Sporting Equals to increase ethnic diversity in sport, particularly in sport management and coaching.

Helen told MWCA: ‘The objectives of Sporting Equals are close to my heart and resonate with me personally. I am delighted to sponsor an event for them in Parliament and I am very pleased with the strong levels of interest it has generated across the industry’.

Helen backs FA Girls’ Football Week

FA Girls’ Football Week has proved a resounding success with more than double the original target of players taking part. Former Sports Minister and MP for Maidstone & The Weald, Helen Grant gave her support by attending the launch event on New Palace Yard at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 27 April where FA head of women’s football Baroness Sue Campbell announced that around 40,000 girls aged between 5 and 16 will play football as part of this week’s event, with the initial target of 17,340 easily surpassed.

Mrs Grant backed the initiative by saying: “Everyone knows that this is a cause close to my heart. Growing up I loved playing sport and I was delighted to pay special attention to the role of women and girls in sport during my time as Sports Minister. I am so pleased that the dedicated Girls’ Football Week has been as successful as hoped.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Helen Grant during the FA Girls' Football Week Event at Houses of Parliament on April 27, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat - The FA/The FA via Getty Images).
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 27: Helen Grant during the FA Girls’ Football Week Event at Houses of Parliament on April 27, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat – The FA/The FA via Getty Images).

Baroness Campbell said: “These numbers are great news for women’s football and show just how much appetite there is for girls to play the game.

“We’d like to thank all of the schools, groups, clubs, teachers and coaches who have taken the time to put on football sessions and give girls the opportunity to play. Hopefully these will all prove a big success and will encourage organisations to continue to provide football opportunities.

“We know the challenges that are faced with girls’ sports participation levels, particularly for teenage girls where drop-out rates can be high, but initiatives like this are a great way to address some of these issues.

“Girls need to be given the opportunity, facilities and confidence to play and we’re committed to providing these and increasing the number of girls who play football.”

This year there will be a second event in the autumn, following the success of last year’s FA Girls’ Football Week, to further drive female participation. The weeks are being delivered in partnership with Independent Schools FA, English Schools FA, Association of Colleges Sport, British Universities and Colleges Sport, the Premier League and the Football League.

In 2015 more than 16,000 people took part in the event, more than triple the original target. The second week, 10-16 October, will aim at raising participation at higher and further education establishments. Football is the largest female team sport in England with more than 2.89m players. There are more than 5,900 women’s and girls’ teams playing affiliated club football.

For more information please visit www.thefa.com/womens.

Maidstone girls come second in UK (out of 1000 teams!)

Loose Primary School proud runners-up in massive national competition

Helen Grant, Member of Parliament for Maidstone and the Weald was delighted to join the Girls’ Football Team at Loose Primary School recently to celebrate their success at the under 11’s Danone Nations Cup.

Loose Primary School football team
Helen joins the team for a celebratory photo!

Mrs Grant first met the girls after she was invited to take a tour of Loose Primary School and hear all about their success in Sport. Since then the team have gone from strength to strength after representing Kent in the South East stage of the tournament last April.

The girl’s achievement took them on to the national finals in Birmingham where they represented the whole of the South East. They fought their way to the semi-final where they were victorious in extra time and penalties.

The competition came to a nail-biting finale and the girls put in a fantastic performance. They came second place after losing 1-0 in the last minute. This does nothing however, to overshadow their historic record of success. Over 1,000 schools across the UK entered the competition and the girls have done Maidstone and the South East proud.

Helen told MWCA: “This is a really exciting time in women’s football. We have just watched our lionesses perform spectacularly in the Women’s World Cup and it is brilliant to see the same enthusiasm reaching the grassroots.”

“As their local MP and the former Sports Minister, I could not be more proud of Loose Primary’s girls and all they’ve accomplished. I was delighted to be able to congratulate them in person and tell them just how special this achievement is.”

Parent, Debbie Wilson said: “Words cannot describe how proud we are of our girls. Not only have they made history for the School but for the South East. Their commitment and love for the game showed through every stage of the competition.”

Minister praises sport activity at Loose Primary School

Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport, is looking closely at sport development across the country, particularly within younger people at grass roots levels. On Friday she visited Loose Primary school in Maidstone.

Loose Primary School girls 7-a-side football team recently made it to the SE regional finals of the under 11’s Danone Nations Cup – scheduled to take place on Saturday 23rd March at the London Marathon playing fields in Greenwich.

Helen Grant with members of the Loose Primary School girls’ football team, Head Teacher Darren Webb (Top centre) and Team Coach Danny Miles (Top left).
Helen Grant with members of the Loose Primary School girls’ football team, Head Teacher Darren Webb (Top centre) and Team Coach Danny Miles (Top left).

‘We will only increase participation in sport, and reap all of the benefits that brings to individuals, communities and society as a whole, if our youngsters are encouraged to try a range of different options from the earliest ages.  Schools with a special interest in sport catch my eye as prime movers.’ Said Helen.

Headmaster Darren Webb said ‘We value sporting activities highly, knowing the immense benefits it can have on developing self-confidence and self-esteem as well as a host of other plusses.  We have extensive grounds and our own indoor swimming pool.  Our children swim all year round, taught by qualified swimming coaches, and all leave the school able to swim well. And we compete successfully with other local schools, in a wide range of sports, in local and county tournaments – evidenced by our success in girls football right now’.

Helen Grant MP
Helen Grant MP

Helen toured the school and observed teachers and children involved with a wide range of different activities.  She then explained her role as minister to an assembly of students and teachers before taking a series of interesting and searching questions from the children, about her personal experiences in sport and as an MP and a Minister.

Before departing she met the girls football team for a photo and to wish them the best of luck in their forthcoming tournament.

‘Inspiring Women in Sport’ – Helen Grant MP chats to local students

After speaking at the launch of the ‘Inspiring Women in Sport’ campaign, Helen Grant the MP for Maidstone & the Weald volunteered to voice her support locally and share her experiences of being a women in Sport.

Helen Grant with students, Rebekka Van Heusden and Charlotte Beedell
Helen Grant with students, Rebekka Van Heusden and Charlotte Beedell

Mrs Grant attended Maidstone Grammar School for Girls to speak to students at a recent careers event. Her aim was to encourage more young women to get involved in Sport, whether that be as a career or as a hobby.

Helen talked about her position as Minister for Sport & Tourism and her personal passion for sport. She was delighted to meet a number of sixth-form students who were already showing great success in sports such as trampolining and netball. Mrs Grant was particularly interested to hear from student Charley Parker who has gained her black belt in Karate.

Talking about the ‘Inspiring Women’ Campaign, Mrs Grant said:

“This is a perfect opportunity to nurture and encourage the sporting talents of our young women. Female role models such as Clare Balding, Christine Ohuruogu, Kelly Smith and Stacey Copeland have made huge progress in the world of sport and are ideally positioned to inform and inspire the next generation of girls and women to follow in their footsteps. Sport should not discriminate, it should be inclusive – so show your support and back this campaign by getting involved in these inspiring events.”

Helen Grant chatting to students at her ‘Inspiring Women’ stand
Helen Grant chatting to students at her ‘Inspiring Women’ stand

“It was a great privilege to chat to these young women about their hopes and dreams for the future and remind them that women are an important part of the sporting community.”

Nick Chambers, Director of charity the Education and Employers Taskforce, which runs the Inspiring Women campaign, said:

“It’s wonderful to see the success of the Inspiring Women in Sport week of action and so many talented women spend an hour talking with girls in state schools to broaden their horizons and show them that there are diverse and attainable careers in the sports sector. During the week girls have talked with women doing numerous jobs including; event management, coaching, marketing, sports science, journalism and governance.”

Helen Grant opens High Weald Academy’s new Sports Hall

helen grant high weald hallHelen Grant officially opened High Weald Academy’s new £1.2m Sports Hall yesterday. As a specialist sports college the Academy recognises the power of sport to transform learning and raise self-esteem. The sports leadership programme allows all students to develop their self-confidence by working with partner primary schools.

Commenting on the official opening Helen said:

“It was a real honour to be asked to formally open High Weald Academy’s new Sports Hall.

“I opened the Academy back in 2012 and it’s fantastic to see the school – now a specialist sports college – going from strength to strength with such superb new facilities.

“I spoke about the power of sport and its ability transform lives and raise self-esteem. As UK Minister for Sport it’s brilliant to see High Weald Academy championing physical activity and exercise in this way and great to see the all the students so engaged and able to make use these of top-notch facilities”

The sports hall was built over the past year and following a successful bid to the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund (ACMF); a fund administered by Education Funding Agency (EFA) to improve the condition of school buildings and expand facilities

There are opportunities for members of the public to see High Weald’s new sports hall, and visit the school, during their open events, which take place on: Thursday 2 October 5.30-8.30, Saturday 4 October from 10am, or during the school day on Tuesday 7 or Thursday 9 October from 9am.

helen grant high weald academy cranbrook

Sports Minister drops into Palace Wood Primary’s Sports Day following their win in the Maidstone Hockey Championships

palace-wood-hockey--325Helen Grant MP, Member of Parliament for Maidstone and The Weald and Minister for Sport, dropped into Palace Wood Primary’s Sports Day in Allington on Friday, to congratulate the Year 6 Hockey team on winning the Maidstone Hockey Championships and for representing the borough at the district finals in May. It also gave the Minister for Sport a chance to watch some of the children in action in an array of events for the school’s sports day.

Commenting on the achievement and her visit, Helen said:

“I was delighted to drop in to Palace Wood Primary’s sports day on Friday to congratulate the Year 6 hockey team on their brilliant performance in winning the Maidstone Hockey Championships and on reaching the district finals.

“Hockey is such an exciting and competitive sport, a sport I loved competing in myself at school and it’s great to see Palace Wood excelling at this level. Huge congratulations to the Year 6 team and coach Tanya Shaw

“It’s an exciting time for the game with England set to host the Women’s World Cup in 2018 and I hope this will inspire Palace Wood players to keep at it!

“As Minister for Sport it was also fantastic to attend the school’s sports day – a key event in any school calendar. Sport can do so much for a child’s development; helping with discipline, concentration and general wellbeing – not to mention being fun and rewarding. It was great to be a part of the day which the children so obviously enjoyed”