"Research carried out over a long period of time shows access to opportunity is impacted by race, gender and a range of societal factors. That simply has to change and we believe our ambitious project will be a game changer for sport and society in East London," added Dr Ian Pickup, Pro Vice Chancellor, Education & Experience.
"Our national pathways largely comprise athletes who have enjoyed access to the best coaching and resources from a young age. But there has to be another way to unearth talent and we want to be at the cutting edge of efforts to identify and nurture the potential that undoubtedly exists among underrepresented groups."
The University of East London is one of the most diverse and socially inclusive in the country. The programme, complemented by UEL's new Global Sports Strategy, builds on last week’s launch of a plan by the UK's five sport councils to tackle racial inequality in sport.
Athletes from as young as 15 will be invited to apply to become part of the pathway, with individuals supported throughout their journey. Scholarships and opportunities to combine study and training are also part of the long-term plan - similar to the road taken by boxer and UEL graduate, Lawrence Okolie, who maintained his unbeaten record as a professional last weekend.
"The ultimate impact of this programme could be on a national scale, and help address deep-seated social challenges. We can all be proud of our nation’s Olympic and Paralympic success, but too many of our sports have drawn from narrow sections of the population," said Sport England board member, Chris Grant.
"At Sport England, we see the ELTP as a prototype model which we hope will be replicated in other cities. The benefits will extend beyond success in elite sport to closing the ethnicity gap in general participation and create a fairer society where talent can be nurtured regardless of people’s background and circumstances."
Breaking from tradition, athletes will be actively encouraged to participate in a range of sports in order to identify new opportunities and boost skills and self-esteem, while the University will underpin the prototype with research, sharing knowledge with partners and the wider sporting sector.