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By: Tom Degun in London

July 18 - Up to 1,000 local sports clubs and facilities across England are set to be upgraded thanks to a £50 million ($80 million) National Lottery fund, which was launched here in Central London today by Sport England chief executive Jennie Price (pictured) and Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson.

The Inspired Facilities Fund is part of the People Places Play legacy programme, a £135 million ($217 million) National Lottery scheme launched at the end of last year to allow people in communities across England to take part in sport off the back of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games in London next year.

The programme, delivered by Sport England in partnership with the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the British Paralympic Association (BPA), with the backing of London 2012, has been designed to be as simple and accessible as possible for potential applicants - particularly first time funding applicants - with the aim of making it attractive to community groups and sports clubs who have never received public funding before.

"I hope that many of the groups who benefit from Inspired Facilities will be receiving Lottery Funding for the first time," Price told insidethegames.

"Those applying for Lottery Funding for the first time will receive priority in the funding allocation process and we have worked hard to simplify the application process which is just an eight-page document.

"We have a catalogue of ready-made options for successful groups to choose from whether they want new changing rooms, new floodlights or anything else.

"We are also giving groups the opportunity to make use of pre-appointed contractors who can do the work without the need for a lengthy procurement process.

"So we really want people across England to look back on 2012 not only as the year of the London 2012 Games but also as the year when their local sports facilities got better."

Sport England claim that the investment will breathe new life into tired facilities, while there will also be money available to convert existing non-sporting buildings into venues suitable for grassroots sport.

At least £35 million ($56 million will go to community and voluntary organisations through grants of between £20,000 ($32,170) and £50,000 ($80,420), with the remaining £15 million ($24 million) of money to be open to a wider group of organisations, including councils and schools, with grants of up to £150,000 ($241,260) available.

hugh_robertson_18-07-111"The £50 million ($80 million/€57 million) fund is a huge boost to community sport," said Robertson.

"It will transform local sports facilities up and down the country and leave a lasting legacy from London 2012 at a local level."

Applicants whose projects will benefit disadvantaged young people will also be invited to apply for funding from the Thomas Cook's Children's Charity from August of this year.

The charity is offering grants for sport as part of the Inspired Facilities Fund after becoming Sport England's latest corporate partner.