CHILDREN across Burton and South Derbyshire are to reap the benefits from London 2012 as the Government
announced primary schools were to place greater importance on sport in the wake of Britain’s most successful Games for more than a century.
After the Olympic Games came to a spectacular end on Sunday, already attention has turned towards the future and a much talked-about ‘legacy’. The best of Britain glittered in gold, bringing home a haul of medals, in the
country’s most successful Games since 1908, but now decision-makers are charged with making sure that success
continues into the future.
Traditionally, the host nation struggles to repeat the success shown on home soil and as well as basking in
the glory of the national spotlight, officials are charged with grabbing the opportunity with both hands and
getting children involved with the plethora of sports on offer.
The Government has already announced that team sports will be made mandatory in primary schools across the country, with some ministers saying children should be exercising for up to two hours a day. Sports such as football, hockey and netball will take a bigger role in the curriculum from September, which is also set to include compulsory participation in ‘recognised and recognisable sports’ as well as setting out requirements for ‘team outdoor and adventurous activity’.
After Great Britain won a staggering 29 gold medals, dominating on the water, in rowing and in the velodrome
in cycling, sports coaches from clubs across the area have spoken of how they have been inundated with inquiries from people keen to get involved in a new sport. They also revealed how the focus had moved away from traditionally more popular sports such as football and cricket towards less mainstream activities. The focus is firmly on younger people and to make sure that all children have free access to sporting
activities at school from a young age, in a bid to keep them healthy and provide the Olympians of the future.
Burton MP Andrew Griffiths was optimistic about the effect the Olympics would have in the area. He said: “We’re already lucky in Burton that so many schools put so much emphasis on competitive sports. However, the ‘Olympomania’ caused by London 2012 is the perfect opportunity to build on that. “The decision to make competitive sports mandatory will not only improve fitness but will also develop Olympic champions of the future.” Mr Griffiths disagreed that excess sport could have a negative effect in the classroom, adding: “The benefits of physical education extend into the classroom. “The old adage that a healthy body makes for a healthy mind is absolutely true.Most parents and children will welcome this move by the Government.”
Neil Brown, sports development leader at East Staffordshire Borough Council, said: “Our summer holiday program is always busy, however this year our programs are especially popular. “All the conversations are centred on
the Olympics and it’s clear the Olympics have given people a boost to get outdoors and play sport.”
Leisure centres have seen a boost in interest due to this summer’s Games, while swimming pools have already seen an eight per cent increase in punters during the last fortnight. Mr Brown added: “We have partnerships with British Cycling, Run England, Burton Albion Community Trust and Schools and Health. Those partnerships mean there are a variety of activities available for anyone to take part in sport and physical activity.”
Mr Griffiths said the exposure of minority sports had widened the opportunity for more children, offering them
an alternative to ones commonly seen in parks and open spaces across the region.
He said: “What has amazed me is how enthralled people have been with minority sports which people normally
wouldn’t be as interested in. “It’s widened the appeal of lesser known sports. People can now find a sport that suits them.”