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Thursday, 24 November 2011

New Age Kurling anyone?

A colleague forwarded this interesting exchange in the English Parliament this week (reported in Hansard):

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport which sports will be included in School Games competitions; and if he will make a statement. [81695]
Hugh Robertson: Currently 24 sports are available to schools. These are athletics, badminton, basketball, boccia, cricket, fencing, football, Goalball, golf, gymnastics, hockey, netball, New Age Kurling, Panathlon (a multi-sport disability event), Polybat, rugby league, rugby union, rowing, swimming, tennis, table tennis, table cricket, volleyball and wheelchair basketball. By September next year, the ambition is to increase that number to 38.
The inaugural School Games national finals will feature 12 of these sports, namely athletics, badminton, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, hockey, judo, rugby sevens, swimming, table tennis, volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

The School Games was launched in June 2010, and is a part of the Government’s plans for a lasting sporting legacy from hosting the London 2012 Games (no comment!). The Games aim to “further revive the culture of competitive sport in schools”. Every school (primary, secondary, special) in England will be given the opportunity to get involved in a package of events and activities.

Do not blame yourself if you are not familiar with some of these sports. Despite the misleading explanation in the response, Goalball, New Age Kurling, Panathlon, Polybat are all aimed at disabled young people (or for ALL young people, irrespective of their abilities).

We should not let the almost inevitable explosion of rage from the Daily Mail and its minions, before someone explains about these sports, distract us from a much more important issue: the remarkable progress that has been made by advocates in ensuring that all young people have access to sport and healthy competition, regardless of their ability.

It was only a couple of decades ago when disabled people were kept to the margins of sport. The trajectory from that position to Hugh Robertson's statement is remarkable.

I await the uproar with glee!

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