How sport can help us to really thrive

A personal view
A personal view
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How can someone not be encouraged by a headline that reads: “Sport England has £250m strategy to target inactivity”?

That was a standout headline as I woke up yesterday morning with plans announced to tackle the 28% of people who do less than 30 minutes of exercise per week.

Ambitious, maybe. Welcome, of course.

That is quite a startling figure when you think about it.

More than a quarter of people are unable or unwilling to do half an hour, or even two 15-minute slots, of exercise a week.

There are of course many reasons for that – but many of them will be unacceptable, like the situation of course.

Among the less active groups were the disabled and those from poorer backgrounds and it will be heartening to see this highlighted going forward. I am sure, for many, the willingness is there, even if the opportunities aren’t always.

Part of the strategy, they say, will see up to £30 million spent on increasing the number of volunteers in grassroots sport.

Once again, how can anyone argue with that?

I have used this column before to praise the impact of volunteers in local sports clubs up and down the county who simply would not be able to go on without them.

This will be highlighted further in the next fortnight when National Volunteers Week starts on June 1 – and runs for 12 days. Volunteers are rightly too good and too important to be restricted to a ‘week’.

Back to yesterday’s announcement and the good news kept on flowing. Funding would now focus on children from the age of five, having previously supported youngsters from the age of 14, and there was plenty of talk of pumping more time and expertise into tackling inactivity.

All positive and healthy news.

When it is claimed that six out of 10 adults are playing no sport in a typical week, something must be done.

Inactivity in the young must be addressed but clearly there is a problem among older people as well.

Keeping them healthy and active is key for keeping them out of our straining GP surgeries and hospital – as well as ensuring they provide the right role model to our young.

At a local level, there are more opportunities for participation in sport than ever before.

West Suffolk College, for example, have specialist and dedicated staff to target students who otherwise would not get involved in regular exercise.

From changing simple daily tasks – cycling to work or even parking the car a little further away – to taking part in a weekly club or session, there are so many ways people can change their lifestyle.

The grand announcement has been made. It must now be followed up with real activity.