Scottish Parliament election candidate, Natalie Don, on Saturday welcomed the First Minister to the Renfrewshire North and West constituency, where the SNP’s plans to double funding in sports and active living were unveiled.

Nicola Sturgeon joined Natalie Don and her daughter, Ailsa, in Renfrew’s Robertson Park to confirm an SNP Government will increase investment in sport and active living to £100 million by the end of the parliament and a new national plan will be devised to break down barriers preventing people from participating in physical activities.

Photo: Nicola Sturgeon with Ailsa, Natalie Don’s daughter, at Robertson Park in Renfrew

The SNP has also committed to help sports fans become more involved in the running of their club. A ‘Fan Bank’ will empower communities and groups who do not have access to capital to acquire a share or control of their local sports club. Successful applicants will be required to show how their proposals will benefit their community – for instance how their involvement will support women and girls’ participation in sport.

During her visit to support Natalie Don’s campaign, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The last 12 months have caused all of us to reflect on our relationship and with sport and physical activity. The SNP has already set out plans to capitalise on the uptake of cycling seen during the lockdown, by providing free bikes to all school children who could not otherwise afford one, and significantly increasing investment in active travel infrastructure.

“And by investing in play parks we will ensure that our very youngest children have the outdoor space to play, to build fitness and to be with their friends.

“We are also absolutely determined that everyone in Scotland can benefit from investment in sport and physical activity – and we will back up this determination by doubling the Scottish Government’s investment in sport and active living to £100 million a year by the end of the parliament.

“We will work with organisations and individuals to devise a new national activity plan – focussing on breaking down barriers that keep too many people from leading active lives. As a priority, this will include supporting the participation of more women and girls.

“Of course, the last year has also tested sports clubs of all sizes to their limits. We know that fans care deeply about how their clubs perform both on and off the field – and although they may have great ideas for how their clubs could be better run for the benefit of their community, they may not have the funding to do so.

“The SNP will set up a Fan Bank which will allow those fans to access capital to turn this dream into a reality. If they can demonstrate clear community focus, we believe they should be supported.”

Natalie Don added: “I was delighted to show Nicola around the state-of-the-art play area in Robertson Park which is a tremendous facility helping to improve local children’s health and social inclusion. I welcome the SNP’s commitment to renovating and upgrading play parks which will enable many more youngsters from their early years to get chances to enjoy physical activities and improve their fitness in fun, safe environments.

“It is pleasing that the number of women taking part in sport in Scotland has risen substantially in recent years – including a doubling of female footballers, a 105% increase of women in hockey clubs and 67% more playing basketball – but, as the First Minister highlighted during her visit today, more can be done to create a level playing field allowing everyone to become more active and healthier.

“By voting for the SNP on both the constituency and regional ballot papers on 6th May, people in Renfrewshire North and West can help elect an SNP Government which will invest heavily in sport and physical activity; and ensure that opportunities to lead a more active life are open to all.”