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Why School Sport Isn't the Answer to the Olympic Legacy Question

Posted: 14/08/2012 00:00

So here we are - the day after the night before. The Spice Girls remove their make-up and Britain looks back on its greatest fortnight in modern history.

With 29 gold medals, our athletes impressed the world. That's more than Australia managed at the 2000 Games in Sydney, or the Greece at the 2004 Games in Athens. In fact, excluding the United States and China, it's the best Olympic performance of a host nation in living memory.

With over a billion pairs of eyes looking on, our country impressed the world. London's transport swiftly and safely carried over a million people around the capital each day. 70,000 volunteers greeted Olympic visitors with enthusiasm and kindness. The British capital, and the British people, came alive in a way not seen in recent history.

Forgive the cliché, but these Games have demonstrated just what is great about Great Britain. As a nation, our spirit, talent, and reliability have been proved on the grandest of stages. There is no time like the present to discuss how we can take the lessons we have learnt over the past fortnight, and ensure we remember them forever.

The question mark over legacy is daunting. It's loomed at the back of our minds throughout the seven years of preparation for this past fortnight. Now, after waking up with bleary eyes and realising the clock has stopped and the medal count has halted, the future of London 2012 is at the forefront of every head in the country.

Most bloggers and commentators are suggesting we channel this inspirational Olympic spirit is through school sport. At children's paper First News, we disagree. We think the best way to continue London 2012 is through local sports clubs and leisure centres - the places which lie at the centre of communities all over Britain.

Some of Team GB's most amazing medal moments at London 2012 were in sports like sailing, swimming, rowing and cycling. Most schools can't even contemplate accommodating these activities.

However, there are many sites around the country which provide excellent opportunities for ambitious and talented kids to shine in the sport of their choice.

Not a single person could deny that young people have been left inspired by the last two weeks. Yet, there's a blockade in the way of our dream for these motivated kids. If they want to get into these places, membership fees are steep. If a single ambitious child was prevented from getting active due to a lack of money, wouldn't it be a massive failure on our part?

First News is calling for free leisure centre and sports club memberships for all under sixteen year-olds in the country.

The aim of the last 17 days has been to inspire a generation. We have unequivocally succeeded with this aim. The aim of the next 17 years is to give this newly-inspired generation the chance to get active. We can totally do this too. In the midst of an obesity crisis, Britain can take the most obvious step towards solving it.

Whether two weeks of sport, no matter how fantastic, is worth £9billion during economic austerity is debatable, but whether an era of inspiration and achievement is worth that money is unquestionable.

You can sign the First News e-petiton for free sport for kids here.

 

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