0 Who will put sport back on the school agenda?

JamesMead3It came, it triumphed and the whole country glorified in its wonder; the Olympic Games really did deliver. So, what next for our sporting nation?

The buzz word has always been 'legacy', but surely it must mean more than rebuilding another chunk of London? It must encompass the whole nation if we are going to put sport back on the agenda.

It will need a seismic change in Government policy to put back into place a thriving competitive state school sporting programme, for this is where the neglect of our youngsters sporting opportunities are most obvious.

There have been too many half-hearted tweaks by various political parties. This time, we need to think, plan and independently fund a long term strategy, whilst also taking away political infighting by implementing a non-political national sports body to oversee all aspects of sport in schools.

We have a very well developed template to observe, which is to be found in the private school system. In Beijing, 80% of medal winners and a quarter of the GB team for London came from this sector, so a huge amount can be learnt, and then even bettered, when looking to put together a national strategy.

The fundamental difference for many years between state and private is that private schools have continued to back themselves with funding towards a wide breadth of sports facilities and, very important from our profession's point of view, they have backed the employment of permanent groundstaff, which is in stark contrast to Government's selling of playing fields and minimal grounds maintenance.

Rugby_School_850.jpgWe already have academy schools in various guises, performing arts, science and even some called specialist sports schools - the one nearest to Rugby has some of the worst grounds for miles!

So, if there is to be an Olympic legacy, it must include a genuine programme of accessible state schools dedicated to delivering the very best sporting education, in association with the very best that our grounds industry can offer. Link the two together and then All of our youth will have a fighting chance of sporting success.

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