The Mayor of London Boris Johnson, alongside the excellent Labour MP Kate Hoey, has unveiled plans to promote sport in London – not least due to one fifth of London children being obese. Money is being redirected from the London Development Agency budget – a notorious source of cronyism and wasteful spending under Ken Livingstone. The full proposals are here but the following caught my attention:
In their Whole Sport Plan, British Judo has identified increasing participation in London as a key strategic priority. With only 37 clubs and 1,000 licence holders, they recognise that there is huge scope for growing the sport here. Judo is better suited to inner cities than many other sports, due to the variety of spaces that can be used as a dojo. It is a relatively inexpensive sport to play and judo clubs often subsidise the mat fees for people unable to afford them. British Judo has targeted London as an expansion area. With this in mind, a full time London development manager has recently been appointed. British Judo has a fully developed London strategy and is working with a number of London boroughs to improve coverage and develop clear pathways to keep people active and allow them to progress.
At the AHOY Centre, Greenwich, they use the medium of sailing to break down barriers and bring people together from many different walks of life. Through the activities and courses at AHOY, they teach people not only how to sail or row but also about helping others, so that they can then go on to teach and help others. Their primary objective is working with disadvantaged young people and disabled people. However, the centre caters for the needs of people from all backgrounds. The centre believes that disabled people and non-disabled people should be actively encouraged to interact and be treated as peers in participation, leadership and volunteering roles. The centre is a recognised Royal Yachting Association (RYA) teaching establishment and ‘Sailability’ Centre and provides professional training towards recognised qualifications. The AHOY centre offers its disabled and non-disabled volunteer members the opportunity to train for a career in water sports and to compete in sailing and boating events.
Dare2Dance is an example of a project which aims to increase participation in physical activity through the medium of Street Dance using Hip Hop Dance Techniques. It is led by Pro-Active Central, North and South and Independance in collaboration with a number of other partners from the public, private and voluntary sector. This project aims to attract young women through a medium that they can engage with. Hip hop is a dance form that has become the voice of young people, breaking down racial, ethnic, gender, class, language and regional barriers. In terms of other physical activity, dance also continues to reach out to girls and young women many of whom enjoy the more creative physical activity that dance offers. The project is made up of several strands including a competition, a participation programme and training.
Mobile swimming pools
Mobile swimming pools can be erected in a wide variety of locations such as school halls, gymnasiums and industrial units. They are not standard size or depth, but they provide extremely convenient and cost-effective opportunities for people of all ages to learn to swim and to swim recreationally. Coaching programmes can be embedded around the pools, catering for local schools and for community use. Deploying two pools in London could mean 10,000 more children learning to swim and 5,000 more adults swimming recreationally each year. In partnership with public sector and private organisations, the Mayor will invest in two mobile pools, to be deployed in sites (usually schools), located in areas identified as being in need, for twelve-week periods. If it meets expectations in the first year, the Mayor will look at expanding the programme in future years.
London Boxing Academy
The London Boxing Academy (LBA) is shortly launching its second site in Hackney. At-risk students who have benefited from the sports-based LBA curriculum at the LBA’s first site in Haringey have shown
significant improvements in attendance, GCSE results, uptake of further education and employment as well as reduced rates of re-offending.
The LBA aims to increase participation, and successfully return excluded young people to sport by re-engaging them through boxing and a wide range of other sports activities. Many LBA students had ceased to participate in sport as their school attendance has fallen and been replaced by gang-related activity. Following normal school hours and terms, the LBA bases a core GCSE curriculum, vocational training and mentoring for young people aged thirteen to sixteen around a daily timetable of sport. It also guides students towards local clubs and has several boxers, footballers and runners who have represented local clubs at national level. Through sport, LBA students are able to understand teamwork, respect for others, self-discipline, a work ethic and benefit from reduced stress levels and improved self-esteem.