South Bank University has taken over an £8 million National Lottery project to develop sporting opportunities for inner-city 12 to 16-year-olds with the aim of widening university access through sport.
South Bank will manage the London Active Partnership, an initiative to provide children with access to organised sport, in an attempt to develop the university's community sporting networks and to raise its profile among disadvantaged and disenfranchised youngsters.
Stewart Ross, director of sport at South Bank, said: "This will mean that not only can we help spot emerging sporting talent for scholarship programmes on our sports and coaching courses, but we can also spread the word in general about the university to inner-city children who would not otherwise be thinking of going to university."
The London Active Partnership is part of the Sport England Active Sports Programme, and has received £8 million in lottery funding over five years to "work cooperatively with all groups involved in sport development in order to provide opportunities for all young people to reach their full potential in their chosen sport".
South Bank will provide a £30,000-a-year office space and employ the scheme's ten full-time staff and network of 300 part-time coaches. The university hopes to increase staffing levels to 20 and to extend the network to 1,000 coaches.
"We are working to place our students on the programmes as coaches, to provide them with paid opportunities and also to act as mentors to the youngsters," Mr Ross said.
He said institutions now realised that they had to offer "much more than a commitment to the provision of academic programmes in the sports disciplines, or a set of facilities".