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Successful and inspiring Olympic Games - can we convert to activity and competition opportunities for children and schools?

Posted on Monday, 13 August 2012 02:35PM by Scott Robert-Shaw
Now that I am buzzing after an absolutely incredible two weeks of sporting success. I would like to warmly congratulate the organisors of the London 2012 Olympic Games and also the incredible and inspiring efforts of all the athletes from all countries and across all of the sporting disciplines. From the perspective of a citizen of Great Britain I am also bursting with pride for all of our athletes and their incredible endeavors but also for the uniquely British presentation and hosting of the games including the jaw dropping opening and closing ceremonies.   

 Like most of the country I am now wondering how we, as a nation, can best capitalise on the huge levels of good feeling and inspiration that have poured from the 2012 Olympic Games. As an adult I will be increasing my fitness regime, including an additional emphasis on cycling. I might even grow some sideburns! But I am also thinking very much about sports and activities for children and particularly opportunities for competition in schools. There seems to have been a move away from a focus on competition in schools in recent years. This maybe from a desire not to isolate children who do not perform well in either mainstream sports or indeed in any physical activity. Schools also have a lot on their plate with academic targets to achieve that may take priority over providing opportunity for sports competition. However I would like to suggest that competition itself is the inspiration! I have three boys aged 6, 8 and 10. Last night they had a competition to see how long they could hold their breath in the bath! Once the arguments were resolved we had a medal ceremony. My wife gave out the medals and I had to stand in for my eldest who could not cope with the ignominy of only getting a silver medal. Lessons to be learned all round there!! But my point is that they organised their own competition inspired by the medal giving ceremonies from the Olympic Games.

 Whilst Lord Coe and the rest of the Olympic hierarchy is looking on developing a legacy to increase the activity levels and uptake of sports in this country I suggest that they start by helping schools to nurture the instinct for competition and self improvement (self improvement as measured against the success of peers) that exists in all of us. There are many great initiatives in UK schools like PESSCL  (Physical Education School Sport and Club Links) to identify and develop the new Olympians to ensure we do even better at Rio 2016. But let us encourage competition at all levels in schools and all our children to excel. To get them active and also to teach them how to strive for first place but to appreciate the achievement of doing their best. Coming in after a better opponent is the start of the journey. After all, every single Olympian knows the feeling of not coming first and has used that experience to improve and to excel.

 As a deliverer of sports skipping workshops in schools skip-hop have seen at first hand how the introduction of a competetive element can transform both the classroom or even the whole school. Who wouldn't try just that little bit harder if they new that their score was to be compared with peers, the next class or even to scores in the next school? And sometimes when children that do not excel in one particular sport or skill do so in another, the reaction from themselves and the whole school is overwhelmingly celebratory.

So how do we convert the successful and inspiring Olympic Games into activity and competition opportunities for children and schools? We simply show them the great example provided by our Olympians and then let their natural instincts rise to the surface. Job done. A new generation of competitors on the way and more children on their feet and participating rather than sitting on their bottoms watching.