Can we inspire a legacy in school sport?

20-Jan-2011

The topic of school sport is proving to be a political hot potato. The media has latched onto the ‘mind-blowing’ damaging impact of cuts to funding, whilst the politicians are set to ‘battle out’ their ideas for the best way for children in schools to receive the best PE and sport provision. But are we missing out on the real issue of what is, or is not, being made available to children, and the support needed for schools and families, when it comes to ‘inspiring’ active lifestyles?

The buzz word in just about everything at the moment is ‘legacy’. Perhaps the recent changes to legislation in school sports highlight some short comings in providing quick fix solutions because once it stops, what is left behind? But moving completely in the opposite direction will surely result in the same outcome? As a sports enthusiast, I desperately want children to engage in competition to inspire a passion for success in later life, and hopefully produce more successful sports teams. But that is only going to benefit the minority. We need to cater for everyone, and provide fitness and physical activity solutions for all

In the words of the greatest sports programme ever, ‘What happens next?’ What incentives are there for children to continue attending regular sport and physical activity sessions if they don’t ‘make the team’? What are those children who do not ‘make the team’ do? What happens to those disillusioned youngsters who were desperate to make the team, but didn’t quite get there? Where do children continue to participate in sport and physical activities after they have received a 10-week course at school? Ok, the community clubs and volunteers look to receive support in the new plans, but what, or who, links the clubs and schools together?

The simple facts are that children in the UK are less fit and active than they were ten years ago. Research shows that the fitness levels of British children are falling twice as fast as the global average, falling by 8% compared to a global average of 4% for the rest of the world (source: The Telegraph)


But will the new school competition programme encourage more children to regularly be more active, or will it polarise the ‘Billy Whizz’ children (who lead a hectic sports and activity filled life) to the ‘Billy Bunter’ children (who put their health at risk by shunning exercise altogether) even further? A continued programme of opportunities for sport and physical activities has to be in place to keep the conveyor belt of talent feeding the competition teams, and keeping children away from the hideous consequences of leading an inactive lifestyle

ActivKids has always promoted the development of fundamental movement skills through fitness and active games. The ActivKids programmes also promote the development of children’s confidence and self esteem in physical activity, which help children to continue to participate and regularly attend sport and physical activity sessions. Competition is a massive part of the ActivKids programme because competition is a massive part of life! And we have children attending classes year after year, but we also have those children who want to move into other sports, which they were too scared to do before attending an ActivKids course. This is always our greatest achievement

There is an army of passionate coaches, instructors, leaders, trainers who want to inspire children in a range of sports and physical activities. These are the people that make the real difference to children’s lives. We need people to fight their corner, to demonstrate the passion and desire to ‘make things happen’. But we need this fight to have the needs of the children, schools and parents at the forefront. Let’s hope we can learn from previous mistakes when it comes to creating a positive legacy. Ask most people on their recollections of PE in school, and it is far too frequently not a positive memory. With nearly a third of the UK population obese, costing the British tax player billions of pounds each year, these are the real consequences of getting it wrong


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