Tuesday the 18th of May

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

New children’s sports plan praised as fit for the future

Westminster’s Diocesan Chaplain for Sport has welcomed the Government’s plan to increase the amount of exercise for children.

Children will have a greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity, whether that be in school, after school or during weekends and holidays, under new Government plans.

The School Sport and Activity Action Plan, outlined by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Sport Minister Mims Davies and Minister for Public Health, Seema Kennedy, will set out a range of new measures to strengthen the role of sport within a young person’s daily routine, explain how teachers and parents can play their part, and promote a joined-up approach to physical activity and mental wellbeing.

It comes after the latest data from Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People survey showed that a third of children are currently doing fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

The Government and Sport England will work with a range of sporting bodies including the Football Association, Premier League, England and Wales Cricket Board and the Rugby Football Union to ensure that their clubs and programmes can reach even more children, encouraging them to get active by focusing on fun, enjoyment and increasing confidence.

Drawing upon the successful This Girl Can campaign, which has inspired over 3.9 million women and girls to take steps to get active, Sport England will also provide £1 million to develop a digital resource for girls. This will include a new Netflix-style library of workout videos that can be used in schools and PE lessons.

Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, Westminster’s Diocesan Chaplain for Sport and the CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, said it was “encouraging” to see the Government moving to ensure children have greater access to sport and physical activity.

“In 2016, I remember reading that more than 2,500 sports facilities, including athletics tracks, playing fields, swimming pools and tennis courts, had disappeared from Britain since the 2012 London Olympics,” he told The Catholic Universe.

“Athletics had lost the biggest percentage of sites, with 91 fewer in March 2016 than in March 2012, a 15 per cent fall.

“The figures show there were 1,729 fewer tennis facilities and 3,180 fewer sports grounds, stadiums and pitches. However, not all was gloom. There were 323 more riding schools and 2,226 more gymnasiums, sports halls or leisure centres.

“So, with all the negativity Brexit has generated – assuaged by the England cricket team’s World Cup victory – it is encouraging to hear that the Government has finally got its act together and published its new School Sport and Activity Action Plan; welcomed by everyone who knows that sport is for HER: Health, Education and Recreation, and for Catholics it is HERE; Evangelisation being an integral part.”

A joint statement from sport charities and governing bodies including the FA, Lawn Tennis Association and Rugby Football Union welcomed the announcement but stressed that it is also important that further policy change is brought forward.

‘The sector will convene in the early autumn to explore how we can best engage with and support the plan’s implementation,’ the charities and bodies say. ‘We look forward to working with Sport England and all three government departments at what will be an exciting forum.

‘It is vital that this commitment to the importance of school sport, physical activity and physical education survives and transcends any forthcoming reshuffle,’ they add.

Picture: School children participate during the FA Lidl Skills session. (Steven Paston/EMPICS Sport).