Despite the importance of National Lottery funding for the provision of local sporting opportunities in England, research concerning the implications of the central governance of Lottery funded programmes has been limited. Drawing on theories of governance and governmentality, the research presented in this paper focused specifically on the Big Lottery Fund's governance of local partnerships in the New Opportunities for PE and Sport (NOPES) programme. Qualitative data collection enabled comparison of national aspirations for, and governance of, local partnerships with actual partnerships in three case studies. This analysis demonstrated that local contexts influenced local partnerships to a greater degree than the Big Lottery Fund's governance of the NOPES programme. The degree of specificity in national aspirations for local partnerships as well as the tools available to govern the NOPES programme nationally are used to explain these findings and, as a result, implications for both theoretical and policy development are identified.