An article looking at how the nation can build on the successes of the Olympic Games by improving accessibility of sports to school children
The aim of London 2012 was to “inspire a generation.” So now that the Games are finished, how do we ensure that goal is realized?
The nation is still smiling after the greatest Olympic Games ever staged but the momentum needs to be nurtured to ensure the legacy of the Games lives on. The government has committed elite funding beyond Rio 2016, but if the success is to continue, the support needs to be far more mainstream.
Start ‘Em Young
There are stories about champions finding their sport relatively late on, or swapping specialism in adulthood, but the more common route for leaders in a particular field is that they have played their sport since they were very little; Tiger Woods, for example, swinging his first golf club before starting school. To harness that energy and enthusiasm, children need access to sporting activity from an early age and primary school is an obvious place to start involving everyone.
A £1 billion investment has been committed over the next five years to link sports clubs with schools. This huge investment will encourage active lifestyles and surely deliver some future champions. Although having said this, money alone will not be enough as the public support that brought the nation together in the summer of 2012 must continue.
Get the Infrastructure in Place
Much emphasis has been put on healthy, active lifestyles over recent years and it all starts with education. Sport in schools is growing and developing all the time and with additional funding now in place, there are more jobs in Physical Education in schools. The variety of sport available will ensure maximum interest and opportunity for pupils.
There are numerous online sources that offer guidance on applying for PE or School Games jobs as well as providing job vacancy lists.
Education is key
For a while, competitive sport in schools was seen as un-politically correct, with the main focus being that ‘everyone was a winner’. Teaching children that doing their best is important, yes, but to be successful in future international competitions, we need to have a hunger to win. That is where teaching staff become so important; they need to encourage pupils of all abilities and nurture talent, whilst maintaining the enthusiasm of those less skilled.
Beyond primary schools and out into the big wide world, the links with specialist sports clubs must be supported so that once talent and enthusiasm are spotted, it can be kindled.