Team GB Are Storming The Rio Olympics - So Why Are Local Councils Cutting Access To Essential Grass Roots Sports Facilities

18/08/2016 14:09 | Updated 18 August 2016

Team GB are storming the Rio Olympics - so why are local councils cutting access to essential grass roots sports facilities for tomorrow's Olympic superstars?

Tom Daley Diving Academy risks losing access to diving facilities - despite Team GB's success in Rio

Tom Daley has already bagged a bronze medal in the men's synchronised 10m platform event with his partner Daniel Goodfellow and is set to take to the diving boards once again on Friday to compete in the individual 10m competition. And with, it he continues to inspire the next generation of Olympic superstars along with the gold medal success of Jack Laugher and Chris Mears.

Why then, are some local councils planning on closing essential training facilities that work help the next generation get into sport and inspire them to realise their dreams of representing Great Britain in Tokyo 2020 and beyond?

My local council in Barnet has made the decision to remove the diving facilities at Barnet Copthall Leisure Centre in Hendon, North London - a decision that looks set to be disastrous for the Olympic dreams of the many children in the area who are part of the Tom Daley Diving Academy, which works to teach youngsters in the area to dive and encourage them to follow in their idol's wave of success.

Once the facilities go, that will be it. The dream is over. This is a service that encourages and inspires children in north London and gives them aims and ambitions for the future, not only to aim for Olympic greatness but also to strive for success in every aspect of life. The struggle with keeping children active could be solved right on our doorstep with access to sport.

And once the diving facilities are taken away, parents and their children face the prospect of heart-achingly hanging up their towels for good or tackling more than an hour's commute to the nearest alternative. That will be at least a two-hour round trip, and an hour to train.
For many, the latter will just be impossible as they juggle work and the school schedule to boot - especially when our diving-hungry little ones train with the Tom Daley Diving Academy at Copthall three times a week - Monday, Tuesday and Sunday's with an hour of gymnastics too. Every week, without fail, throughout the year.

The reality is that if it closes, then taking our children diving three times a week is not going to happen. They will not be able to train adequately enough to compete in their current national competitions and, what's worse, Team GB's future success in the diving pool is seriously put in jeopardy.

Why would we want to risk this at a time when our Olympians are having one of the most successful Games in a generation and potentially Team GB's most successful Games on record, even surpassing our accolades on home turf in 2012, something that has reportedly never been done in the past.

Great Britain has proven itself to have the best athletes in the world - we should be harboring the inspiration that this creates in our younger generations and encouraging them to get out there and be the best. But we can't do that without our grass root training facilities and local leisure centres and swimming pools - the breeding ground of British greatness.

That's why my daughters and I, along with the other parents and children who are members of the Tom Daley Diving Academy at Barnet Copthall Leisure Centre, have started a petition with campaigning organisation, 38 Degrees to reverse Barnet Council's decision to close the diving facilities. This is not about politics, or it seems money, as they are spending £23 million on the leisure centre regeneration. Keeping the diving facility would cost a mere three-to-four per cent of that total - at £675k.

This is about the future generation of sport and the local communities.

My young daughter, Hattie, only tried her first diving lesson last week, and she has been waiting to be old enough to get into the team for so long - and will be glued to the screen watch Tom in action on Friday.

The children who are part of the Tom Daley Diving Academy at Barnet Copthall Leisure Centre are all part of a big team who support and nurture each other, a squad of young children who pull together and aspire for greatness. This is what we should be encouraging in our younger generations.

Please help our cause and sign our 38 Degrees petition and follow our campaign on Twitter.