When London won the bid to host the Olympics, a simple promise was made. The pledge was not just to deliver an amazing Games, but to ensure that young people had the chance to follow in the footsteps of their sporting heroes.
To inspire the next generation, it’s not just enough to give a young person a goal to aim for, you need to ensure there is the support and quality coaching to get them there.
I’m never going to be the next Mo Farah. But I have met hundreds of children who have improved not just their health and happiness through sport, but also improved their academic school results.
Whether you are destined to be a gold medal winner or just play Sunday league, sport can break down boundaries and gives young people a way of letting off steam and avoiding trouble.
That’s why I’m angry that David Cameron and Michael Gove have cut funding for school sports by 69%, are selling off playing fields and have scrapped the requirement that pupils do a minimum of two hours sport a week.
It’s frustrating that they don’t want state school pupils to have the same opportunities they had at private school. To fulfil their charitable status, private schools must do more to ensure they are supporting local state schools.
That could include allowing local state schools to use their playing fields and sports equipment, as well as providing expert coaching.
Some private schools already do this, but we want to ensure far more do. If they don’t fulfil their charitable status, we will look at whether they should be entitled to the tax breaks that come with that.
While it’s great to see athletes like Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins doing so well, there are still too few Olympians from state schools.
And I want to see more children doing competitive sport. The numbers of pupils taking part in competitive sport had increased by 2010, but of course more could be done.
The Prime Minister says he wants primary school children to do competitive sport. Labour supports that, but he got rid of the network – School Sports Partnerships – which allowed primary schools access to facilities, staff and equipment to do competitive sport.
And simply blaming teachers shows how out of touch David Cameron is.
So let’s end the blame game and put sport first. Labour is offering to develop a 10 year cross-party plan for school sport. This would agree long term support to increase the time young people have to play competitive sport.
Everyone who loves sport agrees we have to plan for the future. It’s been an incredible two weeks for Team GB and the country as a whole. Let’s not lose that momentum.
Stephen Twigg MP is Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary