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(Image courtesy of ViaSport)

The federal and provincial governments have made $1.2 million available over the next year to support athletic programs across Vancouver Island.

The funding is intended to get more people of all ages and abilities involved in sports.

The money will go towards sports programs, activities and coach and leadership training and will be made available through the BC Sport Participation Program (BCSPP).

"Sport has the power to connect people with their communities and build the foundation for a healthy lifestyle," said Lisa Beare, B.C.'s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture in a statement on Saturday.

"These programs will help people make new friends, improve their fitness level and try a new sport, regardless of their background or level of ability."

Some of the programs on the island receiving funding include establishing Victoria's first all-female minor hockey association, purchasing BMX bikes for riders facing financial barriers in Cumberland and creating more opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels to try speed skating in Duncan.

“We’re fortunate here on Vancouver Island to have fairly active lifestyles, but there are those who simply don’t get the opportunity," said Ronna-Rae Leonad, MLA for Courtenay-Comox on Saturday.

"These grants will help even more children and others get involved in sports and enjoy all the benefits that come with greater physical activity.”

For more information visit ViaSport BC's website here.