EFFORTS to increase sports participation across Darlington have enjoyed increased success in the past year.

Darlington Borough Council’s sports development and school games projects have welcomed more than 25,000 customers during 2013.

Adult sport participation in the borough has climbed two percentage points to 25.8 per cent this year.

The two teams have supported clubs and schools in the borough, with funding bids and grant applications worth £337,800 submitted.

March saw the Tees Valley School Games take place at the Dolphin Centre and Polam Hall School.

The event was a culmination of school and inter-school competitions that have taken place across the Tees Valley with 150 Darlington pupils taking part.

Other highlights of the game included a dance festival at the Civic Theatre, which saw 450 pupils from 24 local schools showcase their artistic talents in front of a panel of judges and a sell-out audience.

The Community Games took place in July against a backdrop of bright blue skies and soaring temperatures.

More than 600 primary school pupils took part in a range of sports at Eastbourne Sports Complex.

Sports development had a successful summer, with 550 participants enjoying a range of sports, including rounders, cricket, football, badminton, futsal, table tennis, fencing, gymnastics, trampolining, cycling, diving, golf, orienteering and athletics.

In September the team secured a Sport England community sport activation fund.

This project will involve the delivery of numerous sports and activities to engage more individuals in sport and activity and encourage lifelong participation.

Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure and environment, said: “It has been an incredible year for the teams.

“This is testament to the hard work and commitment shown by them in taking every opportunity to get more people of all ages and abilities taking part in sport and activity.

“Well done to all involved and here’s to another sporting and active year.”

Councillor Andy Scott, cabinet member for health, added: “Behind the figures are local people who have taken part in a range of sports and activity, some for the first time.

“Increased activity brings health and well-being benefits leading to a better quality of life.

“As the New Year approaches, it is an ideal time to take stock and consider how we can become more active.”