John Steele: We're set for a spectacular summer of sport – whatever the weather
Saturday, 16 June 2012
It would be quite easy to get a little downcast about the weather were it not for the spectacular summer of sport we have coming up that will certainly go more than a little way to brightening up the outlook.
We are at a moment in time that is so important for sport.
The spectacle of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer will ignite an excitement and enthusiasm across the country that few will have experienced before.
Within schools there has been increased anticipation for many months about London 2012, with young people becoming ever more aware that the country is soon to host the greatest sporting event in the world.
The Olympic Flame that is travelling around the United Kingdom in front of thousands of spectators is energising communities up and down the country, and is just a taste of the hysteria we are likely to witness in the final days before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. While the Olympic party is about to start there is also much to celebrate in school sport this year.
Following the success of the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games (pictured below) last month, which saw 1,600 young people competing in the Olympic venues, we are now entering the busiest months for sport in the academic year.
There are some very important dates coming up in the calendars of schools, providing an opportunity to motivate young people through sport that deserves special mention and recognition.
More than 60 regional sports festivals are taking place across the country over the next two months, as part of the School Games, a nationwide school sport initiative which the Youth Sport Trust (YST) has been commissioned by Sport England to deliver and is backed by National Lottery and Government funding.
These celebrations of sport are giving young people the chance to experience a range of sports and compete against their peers; they also provide a platform to learn some life lessons about the dignity of winning and the grace of accepting defeat. Many of these events will have their own opening or closing ceremonies which will give the children taking part a very special experience.
Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week, from June 25-29, is run in partnership with the YST, and is using the excitement of London 2012 to encourage more young people to take part in sport.
Over four million young people are expected to get involved in Olympic and Paralympic events during the week and schools across the country will be holding opening and closing ceremonies, torch relays and inter- and intra-school competitions. London 2012 World Sport Day, on June 25 is the opening celebration for Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week and a chance for schools to get involved in celebrating the athletes and cultures of the teams that will be coming to the UK to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Alongside these great opportunities we will also see Sir Steve Redgrave going in to schools as part of our work on Matalan Sporting Promise. Elite athlete mentors will be carrying out dozens of motivational school visits for Sky Sports' Living for Sport, and BUPA Start to Move will continue to offer some really positive experiences at primary school level.
These highlights are just a few examples of the impact that sport that will have on our young people over the coming months. The Olympic and Paralympic Games will dominate the news and sport headlines this year, and rightly so.
However, it is the dedication of those working in school sport that is developing our future leaders and sporting champions that may well be making the headlines in years to come.
Whatever the weather this summer we will do our utmost to ensure the future of school sport is looking bright.
John Steele is the chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust.