Time for a slight rant.
Earlier this week, BBC Radio 5 Live published the results of a Comres survey that the station had commissioned, testing the public's views about the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. One of the headline figures from the survey was that 68% of the population don't believe that the games will benefit their local area. Cue reporters up and down the country filing pieces on local opinions from wherever they were sent or based.
The survey led the news on the station for much of the day on which it was published. It's a valid story angle to pursue and I'm not a naive, blinkered apologist for everything related to London 2012 (more of that later in another rant). However, I found myself getting more and more annoyed by the succession of talking heads that the Beeb was apparently very easily able to line up, who offered their negative views about the Olympics being hosted in London this year.
Well this year, for a little while at least, I am going to put my cynicism away and simply embrace the good ‘stuff’ that the Olympics brings with it to our shores. And, for me, at the heart of that is the potential that London 2012 has to be a catalyst, inspiring young people to get involved in sport. If all that is achieved as a legacy is that loads more kids take up a sporting activity or two, then in my opinion, it will have been a great success (and worth every penny)
The evidence is already out there that local communities are using London 2012 as inspiration to do something special. On my own patch in Sedgefield, we are organising the Sedgefield Village Games (http://www.sedgefieldgames.com/ and www.twitter.com/sedgefieldgames), which will run from 17th June (when the Olympic Torch passes through the village) until 11th July. We have our own logo (designed by a Sedgefield schoolgirl) and many clubs and societies in the village are contributing to what will be a full and varied programme of activities, offering free taster sessions for anyone who wants to try out a new sport or three. Although people of all ages will be involved, there is a big focus on youth and every child in Sedgefield will be given a free memento of the Village Games.
Our challenge will be to sustain the interest that the Sedgefield Village Games garners, to fundamentally inspire a generation and instil in them a lifelong love of sport. Knowing the people who are behind Sedgefield’s plans, I am certain that we will succeed, and if that kind of approach and attitude is being employed in communities all over the country, then the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games genuinely will leave a legacy of which the whole country can be proud (and which does, in one way or another, benefit every location in the UK).
Slight rant over.