Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Will FE's Own 'Games Makers' Sink or Swim?: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Will FE's Own 'Games Makers' Sink or Swim?: Fe News

Article excerpt

New recruits face tough task of inspiring exercise revolution.

First we had the "games makers", the tens of thousands of purple-clad volunteers who helped to make the London 2012 Olympics a resounding success.

Now it is the turn of the "college sport makers", a team of 150 full-time sports professionals given the job of inspiring an exercise revolution among FE learners.

The project is launched today with Pounds 20 million of National Lottery funding to improve sports provision for tens of thousands of teenagers in the sector. But if recent figures are anything to go by, the new recruits will have their work cut out.

According to the most recent survey carried out on behalf of Sport England, fewer than half (49.8 per cent) of college students participate in at least 30 minutes of exercise a week. This is down on the previous year's figure and is 15 percentage points lower than the corresponding statistic in schools.

"Too many teenagers drop out of sport when they leave school, as it gets squeezed by competing demands such as studying, work and relationships," said Richard Lewis, chairman of Sport England. "We want college sport makers to remind young people how much fun sport is and to help them build it into their schedules so they develop a sporting habit for life."

Clare Howard, the Association of Colleges' head of sport policy, said the funding would allow colleges to build on the momentum created by London 2012 and would go some way towards making up for the slashing of "entitlement funding", often used for extra-curricular activities, from 114 hours a year per student to just 30.

"The drop-off of sports in colleges is to do with the lack of compulsion, in the same way you see a drop in the number of students taking French or geography," Ms Howard said. "Also, people start to develop their own interests a lot more, and they have to cope with the pressures of work and part-time jobs. …

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