So a couple of days after writing about inspiration, commitment and pride it seems that compulsory PE is going to be scrapped. It's all the fault of PE teachers and schools not bothering, apparently. Oh dear.
I never thought I would defend PE teachers but I am going to. They're a weird bunch, vain, loud and attention seeking. I would never choose to spend any excessive time with them but one thing's for sure they love sport. I am of course making sweeping statements there, I refer only to the ones I have worked with and even then there was only one exception but anyway I'll move on. Each has their own favoured sport, hockey, basketball, rugby amazing talent and enthusiasm wasted on a captive audience that can't be bothered.
I worked in an outstanding sports academy, the good sort of academy not the failing sort of academy. Our sports equipment was provided by MacDonalds and Coca Cola, shame. As a specialist sports school you would think it would attract a lot of young sporting men keen to follow in the footsteps of their sporting heroes. It has a state of the art 3G all weather pitch, running track, dance studio, sports hall, you get the picture. The reality is very different. The young men who arrive in year 7 from the surrounding primary schools are generally unfit, fat, football supporting wannabes with a bling mentality. Harsh but mainly true a very few of the new intake in September will be sporty. Why is this you ask? It's not that PE teachers in secondary schools don't care, can't be bothered or even lack equipment its the lack of sport these kids have had access to in primary schools. No sports fields, no dedicated PE teachers, no inspiration and no time. More time is spent on training the kids with potential to pass the 11+ than on any healthy competetive sport. Secondary school PE teachers are fighting a losing battle.
Parents have a massive role in this. Tonbridge has a diverse mix of very wealthy families and 'ordinary' families. With schools in the area ranging from one of the top ten in the country, private school, to a 'failing' mixed comp. I guess its easy to forget that not all parents have either the money or the motivation to guide their children toward sport, where, let's be honest it often requires parents to taxi their kids around and in the winter get the grumpy child up in the morning to go to training....been there! But with a free skate park, acres of fields, a swimming pool available on the doorstep all parents have to do is kick their kids off the playstation or xbox and get them outside. Kids have a natural way of coming together, organising a game and managing it quite well, all they need is a space and a ball, bat or even a frisbee.
(With Usain Bolt doing his thing this is the moment.......while I'm talking about it anyone remember David Rudisha? A world record run and does he make it on the front pages of the rags?? Possibly the greatest 800 metre runner ever, a lovely man, quietly going about his business almost completely ignored by the media. Don't get me wrong Usain Bolt is a talented guy, I love him, but there could be a young person out there, not able to run fast over a short distance who might just read David's story and be inspired....anyway I digress)
It's all about opportunity. I can't lay the full blame on primary schools, all the time funding is taken away what hope do they have? My son's primary school playing/sports field has gone, a new estate of 2 bedroomed boxes now sits there. The feeder primary school to one of the top ten sporting schools in England doesn't even have a playing field.....I say no more.