More than 750 budding young athletes from London competed in their first School Games Festival today. The event is part of a new and exciting opportunity to encourage young people to play more competitive sport in school and leave a lasting sporting legacy from London’s Olympics.
The London Festival is one of nine pilot events taking place across the country this summer ahead of the launch of the new national School Games competition in September. The new competition will use the inspiration of 2012 to get more young people playing competitive sport, and will build up to a national final in the Olympic Stadium in May 2012.
The Secretary of State was joined today by Olympic medallist Gail Emms and Paralympic medallist David Weir as well as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
Jeremy Hunt, said:
“London has long been a great sporting capital, and Londoners recognise the power of competitive sport to inspire people and bring communities together. The new School Games competition will use the power of the 2012 Games to get more children and young people playing competitive sport. The competition will be a real sporting legacy from London’s Olympic and Paralympic Games - indeed, some of the young people here today will have the chance to compete in the final next year in the Olympic Stadium. I want to thank everyone involved for making this pilot School Games festival such a success.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:
“The London School Games is a great example of how young people from across the capital can be brought together and inspired by sport. As we head ever closer to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 we are doing all we can here in London to ensure that competitive spirit is encouraged and to give more kids the chance to get fit and active. My sports fund is investing millions into some really inspiring grassroots projects to do just that. I hope that as a result of this targeted investment we can help to produce some sporting champions of the future.”
Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley said:
“Being active is vital for a healthy childhood and helps in the drive against obesity. Competitive school sport can also offer a wide range of other benefits like better self-esteem, confidence and social skills.
“With over 30 sports to choose from including Olympic and Paralympic sports, we hope the Games will encourage more children and young people to make sport and physical activity a regular part of their lives.”
Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said:
“Competitive sport is an important part of a truly rounded education that schools should give all pupils - regardless of their background or ability. Sport can bring out the best in everyone, helping to develop important team building skills while teaching how to win gracefully and show dignity in defeat. The School Games will ensure young people of all abilities will be able to take full advantage of the opportunity to get involved.”
Baroness Sue Campbell, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, the charity delivering the School Games, said:
“Competitive sport teaches young people a range of life skills - from confidence and self-esteem to respect and friendship - all of which will support them as they continue to progress through school and on to future careers. Improving sporting opportunities for young people with disabilities is a key focus for the Youth Sport Trust and the School Games gives all young people more opportunities to take part in a variety of sporting competitions at school.”
Young people taking part in the School Games will have the chance to compete in a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports such as hockey, tennis, volleyball, swimming and boccia. Competitions within schools will lead to district-, county- and ultimately national-levels.
Schools can sign up to take part at the School Games website.
The School Games is supported by a range of partners including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Department of Health, Department for Education, Paralympics GB and the Youth Sport Trust. More than £100 million of Lottery and Government funding is being injected into the School Games over the next three years.
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