Sport for sport’s sake

I’m still taking in the news that we’ve lost our bid to host the 2018 world cup. I won’t mention all my personal thoughts about this here but they may involve words like ‘robbed,’ ‘Russian mafia,’ and ‘no infrastructure.’ Just saying.

 Meanwhile, the school sports argument has reached fever pitch. I wrote about the cuts to funding to the very successful School Sports Partnership (SSP)a couple of weeks ago, just before it hit the headlines. Since then, quite rightly, many people have argued about the damaging effect that cuts to grass-roots sport will have.

 Just last week the prime minister dismissed the SSP as a ‘complete failure.’ I don’t know who his adviser was on that but I hope s/he has been demoted to counting paper clips. Since then there has been a significant u-turn to the extent that there have been reassurances that school sport will continue to be supported by the government.  We know this is a u-turn because Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the government’s position is, ‘not a u turn.’ (try googling the words ‘school sport’ and ‘u turn’ and see what you get.

 I know the SSP very well and have always been a fan. I work closely with the partnership development managers and primary link teachers. More importantly I see for myself the difference in schools: the excellent facilities, the wide range of sports on offer and the number of students engaging in competition. The SSP has also focused on specific groups in the last few years like tricky teenage girls, for example, or the kids they call ‘semi sporty.’ I think I would have been a ‘semi sporty’ when I was at school: loads of enthusiasm but not much skill. And for those who are very sporty, there are gifted and talented programmes and links to county-level sport.

 So well done to those sixty head teachers who wrote a letter to the Observer (I’m pleased to see they include some of the schools I work with) and well done to all these sports fans and personalities who’ve spoken up for the SSP.

 Power to the people and I look forward to seeing what happens next. We can make a difference.

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