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- 01 September 2014 00:00
- in Education
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- Last Modified: 02 September 2014 03:30
Youth Sport Trust Chair Baroness Sue Campbell has hailed the success of the Sainsbury’s School Games in ensuring a successful legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The 2014 Sainsbury’s School Games finals will take place in Manchester from September 4-7 and will see around 1,600 of the nation’s finest young athletes of school age compete across 12 Olympic and Paralympic sports.
"I think the Sainsbury’s School Games has been and continues to be a very successful London 2012 legacy initiative,” Campbell told Community Sport Network ahead of the finals in Manchester.
"The finals of the School Games are a national multi-sport event for the country’s most talented athletes of school age.
"This multi-sport event has been in place since 2006 and was previously known as the UK School Games but the big change came in 2012 when it became the new School Games because a pyramid structure was introduced that allowed pupils to compete across four levels.
"The new levels have been very important in terms of a London 2012 legacy because they have allowed young people of all abilities to enjoy the benefits of competitive sport.
"Levels 1 to 3 features intra-school competition, local inter-school competition and School Games Festivals and they have been very successful in getting young people to experience competitive sport.
"Obviously it remains very important that we have the national multi-sport event at Level 4 and this year the Sainsbury’s School Games finals will take place in Manchester from September 4-7.
"Like the previous finals, the event in Manchester will give the most talented school age athletes valuable experience of competing at a big multi-sport event at an early age.
"We know this benefits them hugely as we have already seen several athletes who have excelled at the School Games in previous years go on to achieve big things at the elite level.
"But the addition of the levels below means that every school and every child now has the opportunity to participate in competitive sport, which is fantastic.”
The Youth Sport Trust plays a key role in delivering the Sainsbury’s School Games by providing development support to schools, sports and other local partners across the initiative while the Games are supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England.
Campbell explained that the future of the competition will be dependent on Government backing and funding in order to continue for the long-term but stated that the Youth Sport Trust will continue to back the School Games due to the fact that it provides a clear opportunity for young people to experience competitive sport.
"The future of the School Games is dependent on funding and whether that funding continues,” Campbell said.
"In terms of the delivery, the Youth Sport Trust deliver the event in a national partnership that consists of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (who are supported by the Department for Education and the Department of Health), Sport England, Change4Life and the British Paralympic Association.
"At the Youth Sport Trust, we are very passionate about introducing young people to competitive sport at the earliest possible age because we know the huge benefits it provides them across so many areas of their lives.
"The Sainsbury's School Games is a unique opportunity to motivate and inspire millions of young people across the country to take part in more competitive school sport and that is why we are fully immersed in it.
"Whatever happens with the event moving forwards, we want to continue to ensure that young people can experience more competitive school sport so that will be our main focus moving forwards.”
Campbell herself remains one of the most influential figures in British sport having held numerous high-profile roles in the sector, such as UK Sport Chair from 2003-2013.
But despite her many achievements, which include helping Team GB to a record-breaking performance at London 2012 through her work at UK Sport, Campbell said she remains passionate about contributing to sport – particularly with regard to school sport.
"If I look at the sport sector, I think one of the biggest contributions I can make at this stage is to improving the delivery of school sport, not least in my role as Youth Sport Trust Chair,” she said.
"One of the things that gives me the most satisfaction is helping all young people to achieve their full potential in life by delivering high quality physical education and sport opportunities.
"I really cannot overstate the importance of getting the delivery of PE and school sport right because if you can capture children early and provide them with the chance to try out a whole range of sporting and physical activities; you have got a stronger chance of keeping it with them into adulthood.
"So in terms of ambitions, continuing to improve the school sport system is a big one for me.
"If we can put in place a strong system for competitive school sport like the system we put in place at UK Sport, I think that would be a great thing and it would mean that I could retire with a big smile on my face.”
To read the full "Catch Up” interview with Baroness Sue Campbell, Click Here