The coach of a Kettering cycling club has spoken of his disappointment after an application for funding for new bikes was rejected by Sport England.
Kettering Cyclones Youth Cycling Club had its request turned down because ‘the main focus of the bid was not aimed at 14-year-olds and over’.
And youth development officer Mark Evans feels that without the funding, the sport will lose a vital age group of youngsters.
In an open appeal to Sport England, he said: “At the age of 14 or older youths are usually into a sport of their choice and steering them into cycling at that age is a near impossible task.
“This is why we in Kettering have developed our new feeder system in line with British Cycling that brings children in at first cycling age, then develops them into a point of a specific genre of cycle sport.
“I need bikes to allow my youngsters (and particularly the disadvantaged youngsters) to see how things feel when done with the proper equipment.
“My project will fail as kids who turn up with initial interested fade away without an equipment intervention, so by the age of 14, they are gone and demoralised.”
The club has inspired 53 new young members to get involved in off-road racing, with the majority of them aged nine to 11.
Its bid was supported by British Cycling, Northamptonshire Sport and Kettering Council, and the club hopes the decision will be reversed.
Mr Evans added: “We have hit on a way of inspiring potentially hundreds of kids into sport through cycling over the coming years in this county and in a short time half of these will be in the policy age group.
“The Northamptonshire area has never before had a mature cycling feed into that age group, meaning it will take a short period to reach that goal initially.
“I hope Sport England take a slighter longer view of this before missing a chance to support this exciting opportunity.”
A Sport England spokesman said: “We really understand that people want to do the best they can for their club.
“However, requests for Sport England funding far outweigh the amount of money we have available, and we have to make tough decisions about which projects to fund.
“Unfortunately in this case the project isn’t something we can support.
“The funding we have available is to get people over the age of 14 active, but the Kettering Cycling Club Cyclones application did not meet the criteria because it is for 11-year-olds.”