Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Sport Needs Us All to Stand Up and Be Counted

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Sport Needs Us All to Stand Up and Be Counted

Article excerpt

By Sir TREVOR BROOKING Football Association Technical Director THE decline in school sport could have a profound effect on all of us in the years ahead - unless we address the problem urgently. That is why I am delighted to give my full support to this welcome initiative by the Evening Standard.

I have no doubt that society would benefit hugely from greater investment in sport at school level. In my opinion, 20 years of neglect in school sport has contributed to many of the problems society now faces with young people.

We have a lot of catching up to do.

Consider this for instance: about [pounds sterling]2billion is needed to upgrade local authority sports fields, playing surfaces and changing rooms. At the moment the Football Foundation, financed by the Football Association, the Premier League and the Government, contribute [pounds sterling]45million a year. Greater investment now will reap rewards in the future because sport can help tackle two of the biggest problems facing the young - health and crime.

All the latest research provides irrefutable evidence that today's youngsters are less fit than when I was playing for the England schoolboy football team 40 years ago.

There is clear evidence, too, that children involved in regular sport are less likely to drift into crime.

In the last two or three years the Government has started to increase their investment. They have realised that physical education HAS to come back on to the agenda because competitive sport, through its rules and structure, promotes selfdiscipline and respect for others.

As the chairman of Sport England I tried to raise the profile of sport and make the Government aware that it's not simply about highly-paid stars competing at the top level. It's also about the lack of opportunity in deprived areas and the increase in obesity and diabetes among young people who play no sport at all.

It will benefit society as a whole if we can make the younger generation more aware of the benefits of sport.

But such an undertaking requires better facilities and more coaches. …

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