The British Paralympic Association (BPA) has announced a new four-year sponsorship deal with Sainsbury’s, just days after the end of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The sponsorship deal will see the retail giant associated with the BPA and the ParalympicsGB team through the next winter games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and the summer Paralympics in Rio in 2016. Sainsbury’s declined to comment on the size of the sponsorship deal.
After it became the first ever Paralympics-only sponsor two years ago, Sainsbury’s signed up 70 Paralympians to work with stores across the UK to promote interest in the games, while 12,000 of its customers won London 2012 tickets through an in-store competition.
Its scheme to donate Paralympic equipment to schools, so children could try out sitting volleyball, blind football and goalball, saw nearly 8,000 schools and more than 2.4 million children take part.
Asked why it had wanted to be associated with Paralympians, a Sainsbury’s spokesman said the company had recognised their “inspiring stories and elite athletic feats”, and that the vision of the Paralympic movement complemented its own “commitment to promote a healthy, active lifestyle across all ages and abilities”.
The announcement came as Sainsbury’s launched a new £1 million scheme to provide inclusive PE training for teachers throughout the UK.
The Sainsbury’s Active Kids For All scheme aims to ensure the inclusion of more than 500,000 disabled children in PE and sport within mainstream schools over the next four years.
The scheme will be delivered by Disability Sports Northern Ireland, Disability Sport Wales, Scottish Disability Sport, the English Federation of Disability Sport, and the Youth Sport Trust, and is supported by the BPA.
The launch was held at Chiswick Community School in west London, and was attended by Ellie Simmonds, who won two swimming gold medals in the pool at London 2012, to add to the two she won in Beijing four years ago.
Simmonds said the Sainsbury’s scheme was a “wonderful initiative”, and added: “I know how important it is to ensure that all children get the opportunity to get involved in sport whatever their situation.
“Their inclusion at school is the first step on what can be an exciting journey for young people, which could lead to a gold medal.”
Chris Holmes, the multi-gold medal-winning Paralympian who was director of Paralympic integration for London 2012, said: “We wanted the London 2012 Paralympic Games to inspire young people to choose sport.
“Sainsbury’s Active Kids For All is ground-breaking, enabling young people to access sporting opportunities together with their school-mates in a truly inclusive programme.”
Tim Hollingsworth, BPA’s chief executive, said the Sainsbury’s sponsorship would “help ensure our team continues its success at the elite level”, while Sainsbury’s Active Kids For All would give “children of all abilities the chance to experience sport at schools and community groups across the country”.
He added: “Integration and inclusion is key. Sport doesn’t differentiate and nor should we.”
He said the sponsorship deal with Sainsbury’s – which sees it join BT as an official partner of the BPA – sends “a clear signal that the Paralympic movement in this country is a very attractive proposition for major companies”.