Five ways to cut the cost of sports
1. USE COUNCIL FACILITIES
With all the money the government has poured into preparing Team GB for the Olympics, there are now plenty of subsidised activities. Local councils run not-for-profit recreational facilities so you can benefit directly from all that government funding.
Direct.gov will point you in the direction of your local authority's website, from there it is easy to see what is on offer around you, such as free swimming sessions for under 16s. Alternatively, activeplaces.co.uk has an interactive map which shows all the government-funded sports facilities in your area.
2. MAKE THE MOST OF AFTER-SCHOOL CLUBS
Sport in schools has received a considerable amount of support from the government in recent years. Old facilities have been updated and there has been funding for PE departments to increase the variety of sports offered to children.
More coaches and PE teachers now mean that kids can develop skills in gymnastics and even dance, and are not confined to traditional team sports. The new school year may also mean there are new free after-school sports clubs on offer too.
3 TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
With so many sports on offer, and the Olympics breathing new life into often over-looked sports, it can be difficult to decide what to try first. So, don't buy new equipment and book expensive lessons for your child before taking them to a taster class, you could avoid a lot of expense if they realise the sport isn't for them.
Many local sports clubs offer introductory sessions to encourage new talent so get in touch to fi nd out when you can take your budding gold medallist down for a try out. You can visit sportengland.org, sportscotland.org.uk and sportwales.org.uk for information about free sports courses from rugby to cycling across the country.
4 BUY SECOND-HAND EQUIPMENT
One of the biggest expenses for the parents of budding athletes is the equipment. But this is also one of the easiest areas to cut costs. Consider renting equipment at first while your child makes sure a career as a professional fencer is for them. Alternatively, try secondhand shops or internet auction sites.
For example, you can pick up a brand new BMX bike worth £110 for £55 less on ebay.co.uk than it costs from Halfords.
There are also lots of websites where you can trade or buy unwanted second hand items locally so you don't have to pay postage either. Websites such as mykids2yourkids.co.uk and gumtree.com will show you all the offers in your vicinity.
Swapping or freebie websites are an even better option - try freecycle.org, or swapz.co.uk. But remember safety equipment such as helmets must be bought new to ensure your child is properly protected.
5 SET UP YOUR OWN TEAM
If you can't find any sports clubs in your area, don't be put off. Setting up a local junior sports team doesn't have to be expensive.
The National Lottery, or your local council could provide you with funding to start a new club, and help you find volunteers to help with coaching. For more information, check out sportengland.org.