The House of Sport was established in 1994, and was originally known as “The Sports Development Officers Centre.” The partnership was established by the English Sports Council North (now called Sport England North East) and the University of Durham and was formally opened by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
It was the intention at the outset that this partnership would be developed to become a more all embracing sports support structure. Sport England and Durham University signed a new contract on the 1st April 1999 to launch the new ‘House of Sport.’
While this development was partly made necessary by a change in national funding, it is also true to say that the remit of the Centre has been significantly developed and this is reflected in the current personnel. As well as Development Officers in the sports of rowing, gymnastics, netball and football the Centre also plays host to the English Table Tennis Association and the Schools’ Sport Partnership. The Centre is supported through its day to day work by 3 administrators.
The House of Sport at Durham is now the largest establishment of its kind in the country. There have been various research projects looking at Sports Development Officers’ work, and conclusive findings show that Sports Development Officers are often restricted due to a lack of suitable support and administrative backup.
One of the strengths of the Centre is the strong administrative team, encompassing two Durham University employees, that allows the Sports Development Officers to concentrate the vast majority of their time on sport development. The Centre provides a common base for Sport Development Officers to share ideas and to develop new sporting initiatives.