The fight to save school sport goes on

Tonight, Chelsea play Liverpool in the FA Cup Final at Wembley; the Olympics are just weeks away... but where are future sports stars going to come from.

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Tonight, Chelsea and Liverpool square up at Wembley in the FA Cup Final; the Euros are only a month away; the Olympics come to town in just 12 weeks’ time… but where are the next generation of sportsmen and women going to come from?

The shadow hanging over school sport may have dimmed from political discourse of late, but it remains, as dark as ever, the future for millions of state school pupils ever bleaker. Ahead of our amazing summer of sport, a new documentary, funded by the Youth Sports Foundation, seeks to bring the issue back to the fore.

As the docu makers say:

“Too many young people in the UK live in fear because of gangs and weapons; too many young people lack mentors and constructive activities to fire their passion and ambition; and too many young people lead lifestyles that will cause serious health problems.

“The cost in human and economic terms is enormous.”

It features three young Londoners, Oli, Marlan and Iffath, who’ve turned around their lives and those of others through sport:

“‘Game’s Over’ is a documentary that offers an intimate portrait of the lives of three young people in the poorest borough of London, Tower Hamlets, whose lives have been transformed through participation in a scheme which offers access to sports, and the ability to train for a career in sports, for all children in the country.

“Against a backdrop of poverty, crime, and racial tensions, these young people have refused to conform to stereotypes, instead devoting their lives to teaching and inspiring a new generation of children in sports ranging from football to fencing.

Oli turned his back on the gang that formed his social circle to run one of the scheme’s biggest clubs; Marlan has been able to support his young family with income earned as a sports teacher; and Iffath has helped to change views around racial and sexual prejudices, helping others to look beyond the hijab and see the football player inside.

“This film tells the inside story of school sports, how it affects lives and what the country stands to lose by abolishing it.”

Watch it:

As Left Foot Forward has long reported, the cuts to school sport are illogical, counter-productive and, as ever under this government, hit the poorest hardest:


Sports minister: School sport “nothing to do with me… but the School Games are” 15 Dec 2011

Cameron set for school sports climbdown 3 Dec 2010

2018 Wold Cup may be lost, but PM can still deliver a brighter future for school sport 2 Dec 2010

UK Statistics Authority asked to look at government use of school sports stats 30 Nov 2010

The devastating effect of Gove’s desire to take an axe to school sport 29 Nov 2010

School sport cuts: “This isn’t ideology, it’s idiocy” 26 Nov 2010

Miliband urges Cameron to “overrule” Gove’s school sport cuts 24 Nov 2010

Scrapping School Sport Partnerships – ideology or idiocy? 22 Nov 2010

World finally wakes up to coalition’s assault on school sport 22 Nov 2010

Coalition’s aim for a “school sport revolution” in tatters after CSR 24 Oct 2010

Minister calls for “school sport revolution” – yet DfE to face £670m of cuts 24 Sep 2010


The cuts to school sport, and the Cabinet’s complete, utter, total lack of understanding of their impact are amongst the starkest examples of just how out of touch senior ministers are, and their absolute inability to comprehend the effects of their decisions on ordinary, normal people.

Consider David Conn’s contrasting of the Cabinet’s school sports experience with that of the many:

“On the day of the spending review last month, Michael Gove, the education secretary, announced he was scrapping the plan to improve sport in schools.

“The schools, of course, are not private, like those attended by Gove (Robert Gordon’s), culture secretary Jeremy Hunt (Charterhouse), sports minister Hugh Robertson (King’s, Canterbury) – or the prime minister, David Cameron, whose alma mater, Eton, offers 12 squash courts, 20 tennis courts, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, four cricket fields, a nine-hole golf course, and rowing on the lake that will host the 2012 Olympics.”

Points reiterated by former England Test batsman Ed Smith:

“Top independent schools have spent massively on sports facilities. Even as a former professional cricketer, I’m dazzled – perhaps shocked – by their luxurious swimming pools and perfectly mown outfields. Some schools resemble five-star golf resorts.

“Many private schools have pitches fit for Olympians.”

Looking to the future, to London 2012, most shockingly of all, notes Smith:

“The proportion of British Olympic medallists who are privately educated has grown steadily over the past three Olympics to about 45 per cent. The trend is the same in rugby and cricket: more private-school England players, fewer State-school ones.

“If we could map social mobility within professional sport, it would show a clear downward trajectory. You would expect sport to be a model of meritocracy. It isn’t.”

As we build towards those Games, as we build towards that glorious fortnight, with the world watching, just what kind of legacy are we leaving for the young men and women of our country?


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31 Responses to “The fight to save school sport goes on”

  1. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – The fight to save school sport goes on

  2. BevR

    The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  3. Game's Over Film

    RT @leftfootfwd: The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  4. Game's Over Film

    The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  5. Kevin Richards

    Where will our new athletes come from RT @leftfootfwd: The fight to save school sport goes on

  6. Alex Jones

    The fight to save school sport goes on | Left Foot Forward

  7. Game's Over Film

    Great article by @leftfootfwd "The fight to save school sport goes on" appreciated!

  8. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: The fight to save school sport goes on

  9. Foxy52

    RT @leftfootfwd: The fight to save school sport goes on

  10. Dean Santillan

    The fight to save school sport goes on | Left Foot Forward: Tonight, Chelsea play Liverpool in the FA Cup Final …

  11. Anonymous

    This is a heart-rending story. It is the same with music. I recall visiting a “poor-area” state primary school and being shown a cupboard with some great musical instruments but no-one to teach them regularly. What a sad waste. My own “private” primary school long ago did not even possess a recorder and the playground was a flat roof over a classroom. Not quite like Eton (which incidentally is not a primary school) but at least no money was spent.
    Where I was brought up the local county grammar school had truly magnificent on-site playing fields. A couple of blocks away was a teachers training college with a national-standard athletics track. On a recent visit, I found that the grammar school had been converted to a big comprehensive by building all over the playing field. The teachers training college had been amalgamated, then turned into a distant campus for a new university and finally sold to become a housing estate.
    The state has been letting school sport down for two generations. The state, it seems, is not very good at it because it is ultimately not a top priority. The School Sports Partnerships were a great idea but, because the state was running them, they immediately became top-heavy. A glance at the internet shows that a pretty average county had 26 full time off-site SSP officials. Across the country one might guess that they took a third of the budget.
    I doubt that Michael Gove wanted to axe this potentially inspiring programme. The Treasury demanded cuts. That is what always happens when state spending overruns and has to be cut back. The lower priorities go. Our rivers and beaches were filthy and much of our drinking water sub-standard until investment was taken out of the Treasury’s hands (in that case by privatisation). Under the state, we were always asking for derogations from EU water purity and pollution standards.
    Foundations are a much better long-term proposition. School sports are an extremely attractive option for high earners seeking to spend money on their own good causes rather than pay half of it in tax. The Government should have planned the transition over several years rather than turning the tap off immediately but that is how governments act. They plan spending wisely “for the long term” in good times then axe it in a moment when they are forced to accept that they have spent too much. Unless you are a core activity, the state is the least reliable source of funds.

  12. 45 Apples

    RT @leftfootfwd: The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  13. dsugg

    RT @leftfootfwd: The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  14. Shamik Das

    From yesterday: The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  15. Pat Glass

    From yesterday: The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  16. Henley Sociology

    From yesterday: The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  17. BevR

    From yesterday: The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  18. rosiebytheseashore

    From yesterday: The fight to save school sport goes on: by @ShamikDas #FACupFinal #London2012 #Olympics @GamesOverFilm

  19. Anonymous


    The SSP’s spent some cash on teaching staff. HOW TERRIBLE. That’s right kids, they didn’t spend nearly enough on Corporatist assets.

    And right, the state’s EVIL for proving a SINGLE PENNY to the 99%, got it. Typical far-right attack on everything from state schooling to the NHS. That core function of Corporate Welfare needs the bennies.

  20. Anonymous

    Dear Newsbot9,
    Is this an evidence-based reply?

  21. Anonymous

    No, your post is a statement masquerading as a question.

    (If you want to play silly word games, I can as well)

  22. Mr. Sensible

    Does this government have an Olympic legacy plan?

  23. Anonymous

    “Sell it to our mates”

  24. Anonymous

    I coached football for schools having played for many years at a fair standard, I got my coaching badges, when Labour came to power sport was low, they slowly built it up but I had serious problem with school playing fields being sold off for housing five of the schools I was working at had no playing field or in fact anything I could use .

    Then Blair started to up the coaching costs I was given £500 a year to pay for fuel, cost like football vest and the bit and pieces I needed.

    Brown came to power stated he needed the money for the Olympics and took the lot back I was given £30 a year mind you.

    Then we had the McDonald’s deal with labour, £30 million was given so that labour would not bring in it’s planed laws on no McDonald or other fast food chain near a school, this was dropped the money paid, then we heard the money was to go on new people who would sit in an office telling coaches how to coach, I now coach disabled sport of nothing

  25. Anonymous

    You are right it’s one thing to tell school to play more sports and another to find the people who are able to undertake it, down my way it’s done by people offering time for free.

    But we do have a lack of everything

  26. Shamik Das

    And now Cam's talking abt school sport! The nerve of it :ANGRY: Check out this vid 2 c how he's screwed school sport:

  27. Michael

    And now Cam's talking abt school sport! The nerve of it :ANGRY: Check out this vid 2 c how he's screwed school sport:

  28. Mrs Lionel Messi

    And now Cam's talking abt school sport! The nerve of it :ANGRY: Check out this vid 2 c how he's screwed school sport:

  29. Huw G

    @bengoldacre Or put it back into school sport, which the government has cut to the core –

  30. Will the Tories follow up their praise for Wiggo with investment in cycling? | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: • The fight to save school sport goes on 5 May […]

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