Inspiring a generationPosted: September 12, 2012
Reportedly more than 4 million people visited the Olympic Park for the London 2012 games over the Summer. I was lucky enough to be one of those people and as I arrived at the Olympic Park what immediately struck me was the enormity of the whole event. From the sheer scale of the park, to being greeted by the excellent ‘games makers’, through to seeing proud Olympians holding aloft their medals, the dedication by all involved to make this ‘the greatest show on earth’ totally shone through.
With so many sports on offer, it was quite a challenge to decide which to see, but amongst the several events I saw was the very popular Goalball. This is a game which combines skill, judgement, concentration and excellent spatial awareness as athletes with varying degrees of visual impairment compete wearing eyeshades.
Developed originally as a rehabilitation activity, athletes use a special ball which has bells inside as they roll the ball at speed into the opposition’s goal. The focus on abilities, rather than disabilities is a clear example in this sport, as defenders used body blocks to defend their goals from balls travelling up to 60 mph. Although cheering when a goal was scored was encouraged, the Copper Box arena fell silent when play was underway – a true testament to tense atmosphere, especially considering the number of under 10’s in the arena!
Leaving the Park inspired on my journey home, I began to think of the many different ways that sport can bring people together and the impacts it can have. As part of the Lifelong Learning Programme, we support many sports based projects, including those that use sport to encourage participation and promote inclusion. One of these projects is run by StreetGames, who proudly display the ‘Inspired by London 2012′ logo and whose leaders and participants worked at the Games. Hannah Crane, Partnership Manager, presented their ‘doorstep sports’ at our recent Information Day held in Brighton, which Hannah describes as, ‘sport delivered close to home, at the right time, in the right place, at the right price and in the right style’.
Paving a Legacy
But as the embers slowly cool after being extinguished on Sunday night, the topic of legacy takes a front row seat. In terms of the next generation of programmes, with the proposed introduction of Erasmus for All, the importance of sport is clear with a dedicated strand concentrating on this important area. We are also seeing some of our current projects looking to the future, with one project in particular having their sights firmly set on Rio 2016. Featured in our recently published edUKation, South Gloucester and Shroud College, through their Advanced Apprenticeship in Supporting Excellence, are nurturing the next wave of hopeful Olympians.
The slogan for the Olympic and Paralympic games is ‘Inspire a generation’ – job done? We would be really interested to hear from any projects who have been inspired by the Summer of sport, not only the Games but the tennis, football or anything else that has got participants and spectators involved.