Sport - Games will have a legacy to remember

20th December 2013 at 00:00
Schools to help Glasgow 2014 surpass Olympics, minister says

Glasgow 2014 is on course to outshine the London Olympics by securing a lasting legacy for the nation's young people and inspiring more students to take up sport, according to Commonwealth Games minister Shona Robison.

In an interview with TESS, Ms Robison said an emphasis on sports facilities, participation and breathing new life into deprived communities would ensure long-lasting benefits, in contrast to the picture starting to emerge more than a year after the London 2012 closing ceremony.

A House of Lords select committee report found last month that the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games was "in danger of faltering", with "little evidence (of a) step change" in sports participation levels across the UK. This view chimes with many studies of previous multi-sport events around the world: a meaningful, long-lasting legacy is notoriously hard to achieve.

But Ms Robison, who is also sports minister, said Glasgow 2014 would be able to provide a "more lasting legacy", with schools having an important role to play. She added that this view had been backed by chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns.

"(Sir Harry) said Scotland was going to buck the trend because we've started early," Ms Robison said. "The work has been very deep, it's not superficial: look at things like community sports hubs, opening up the school estate to people, getting people more active.

"We know from the data that's being collected that more people are being more active more often, particularly young people."

The House of Lords report called on Westminster's education department to place greater emphasis on physical education (PE) in schools. But Ms Robison said that the Scottish government had already announced pound;5.8 million to improve PE in schools earlier this month.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Liam McArthur, however, has accused the SNP of "watering down" its ambitions for PE by removing a requirement for PE specialists in schools.

Ms Robison acknowledged that there were some similarities between the Game On Scotland education programme for Glasgow 2014 and Get Set, the equivalent programme for London 2012. But one distinctive feature was that every local authority in Scotland would be given a Commonwealth nation to support, she said. Ms Robison predicted that Game On Scotland would provide a "more lasting legacy" of international relationships than Get Set.

Scotland is also working on developing closer bonds between schools and sports clubs, similar to the model common in Scandinavia, Ms Robison said. She pointed to the expansion of the Active Schools programme, which involves sports coaches working with schools.

The minister added that Games organisers would gather personal testimonies from people in the deprived East End of Glasgow - where much of the Games infrastructure was being established - before, during and after the Games, to see how their lives were affected.

This "wasn't really done" at London 2012, but "we'll be able to tell that story very strongly", she added.

Meanwhile, schools are being reminded that if children do impressive work around Glasgow 2014, there may be an opportunity to meet a sporting star. Scotland international hockey player Holly Cram was last week named the first Game On Scotland ambassador. She visited Comely Park Primary School in Falkirk, accompanied by Glasgow 2014 mascot Clyde, and helped children to try out her sport.

Comely Park had made its mark by establishing close links with a school in Trinidad and Tobago, designing posters to be displayed in the Glasgow 2014 athletes' village, creating a "legacy wish tree" and exploring Commonwealth values.

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